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Home Cooking 7

Pickled veggies and pickled peppers didn't come out very crisp--what can I do next time?

MsMaryMc | Nov 17, 2013 07:06 PM

I've been searching for a good recipe for pickled vegetables--something like the giardiniera I've gotten with an antipasta plate at some Italian restaurants, or the tourshy they serve at my favorite Egyptian falafel place, or the pickled carrots at a taco truck. They all seem like variations on the same basic idea: carrots, onions, peppers, maybe radishes, maybe cauliflower, maybe celery, some spices, and vinegar. Whatever they call it, I LOVE the stuff.

This last attempt is getting closer, but not quite. I put the veggies in pint jars and let them pickle for about 6 weeks in the refrigerator, and tried them today. They're tasty, but a little soft--not crisp like what I've had at those restaurants. I made some pickled peppers the same day--same problem, only they're VERY soft. Is the problem that it just isn't possible to process them in a boiling water bath for 10-15 minutes and still have them end up crisp? Are the ones they're serving at restaurants quick-pickled and not meant for storing for long periods? Any other thoughts or suggestions?

Here are the recipes I used:

Mexican Pickled Vegetables

adapted from Debby Bull’s _Blue Jelly_
makes about 8 or 9 pints

1 small cauliflower, broken into florets
1 red bell pepper or 2-3 red sweet peppers, cut into strips
3 carrots, cut in 1/2-inch slices
2 cups celery, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 medium onions, cut in half, then the halves in eighths
1/4 cup pickling salt
garlic cloves, peeled (at least 1 per jar)
small hot chile peppers, sliced thinly (at least 1 or 2 per jar)

Pickling Solution:
10 cups distilled white vinegar, 5% acidity
2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon whole coriander seeds
1 Tablespoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
2 teaspoons cumin seed
1 teaspoon dried oregano, ground fine

Put the cut up vegetables into a large glass, stainless, or stoneware bowl and cover with cold water and 1/4 c. pickling salt. Stir the salt into a little water before adding it to the big bowl to dissolve it. Cover the bowl with a plate or another bowl that presses down on the veg to keep it submerged. Let it sit for at least one hour. Drain and rinse the vegetables.

Sterilize the jars. Put lids in a simmering pan on the stove.

Combine the pickling solution ingredients in a non-reactive pot and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

To each jar, add some garlic. Toss the sliced chiles with the vegetables. Pack hot jars with vegetables, making sure to get an assortment of everything in there (be sure to pack as tightly as you can). Fill with boiling hot pickling solution to the top, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims clean.

Place hot lids on the jars, then screw the rings on. Process in boiling water bath (water should cover the jars by at least 1 inch) for 15 minutes. Start timing from when the water comes back to a full rolling boil.

Remove to a draft free place, and let sit for at least 24 hours before moving. Transfer to a cool, dark place and let sit at least 6 weeks before opening.

(I know a few things I'm going to change already on this one. For one thing, I found purple carrots at the farmer's market, and they were gorgeous, like purple and orange flowers when sliced--but they bled and dyed everything else in the jars pink! Also, I think I'll cut back on the sugar--they weren't quite tart enough--and bump up some of the spices.)

Here's the pepper recipe:

Easy Pickled Peppers

adapted from http://thecatholicbeat.sacredheartrad... - sthash.R7YENZAw.dpuf
makes about 8-9 pints

3 pounds peppers
1 garlic clove for each jar (optional)
1 red onion, halved and sliced in 1/4” or thinner slices

Brine
12 cups vinegar, either white or cider, 5% acidity
4 cups water
1/2 cup pickling salt
1/2 cup sugar, or more to taste

Bring brine ingredients to a boil and then simmer 5 minutes.

While brine is cooking, prepare peppers, leaving them whole or slice as desired. I like to slit mine down the center so the brine soaks through. Use gloves if peppers are hot. Pack peppers tightly into jars adding a few onion slices as you go.

Ladle hot liquid over peppers, leaving 1/4” headspace. Remove air bubbles by sliding a knife around the inside edges of the jar. Adjust 2 piece caps. Process pints 10 minutes or quarts 15 minutes in a boiling water canner. Let cool at store in pantry up to a year or so. Chill before eating.

(The flavor of these is great--not changing anything there! Instead of slitting the peppers down the side, I tried piercing them several times with a skewer. The brine didn't seep in quickly enough, and the jars ended up with kind of a lot of headspace when it eventually did. I'm thinking next time I might try poking the same holes, and also injecting the brine with my turkey injector, as I'm putting them in the jars!)

Your input on either or both recipe will be most appreciated!

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