Prepare your Brine, It’s Pickle Time!

Pickles! Just reading the word makes my mouth water. Every year I entertain the idea of canning and pickling, but I’ve yet to jump in and do it. When living in Oklahoma, I was introduced to the wonder that is pickled okra, a delicious snack during the summer months, and would have to stop myself from eating the entire jar when offered a homemade batch.  Could my fridge brim with homemade okra of my own? 

Row of jars of pickled okra
My dream come true! Okra for days!

Over the weekend I attended Bust Magazine’s Craftacular and was able to sample several of the amazing pickles made by Brooklyn Brine Co., a Brooklyn pickling company that makes “Damn Fine Pickles!” from NY state produce including Chipotle Carrots, Curried Squash and Fennel Beets. Understandably, their small batch pickles are pricey so I’ve yet to buy a jar, but they have indeed inspired me to give it a whirl myself.

When talking to the Brooklyn Brine Co.’s vendor about how easy I understood pickling to be, the advice was fairly encouraging and went something like this, “Yeah, just throw it in a jar, mix in some salt and vinegar, and put it in the fridge.”  In the spirit of all the DIYers at the  Craftacular, I was anxious to get home and get pickling.

Ginormous disclaimer here: I’ve yet to pickle. But, I did find a How-To blog post “The Guaranteed Easiest Way to Make Your Own Pickles” and it makes it seem rather simple. I also found a video on Hulu that offers the more traditional, somewhat more intensive method that involves sealing the jar.   From what I can tell however,  it seems pickling without the sealing process would be sufficient for most people just looking to pickle and eat pickles pronto.

Produce I’m tempted to pickle includes but is not limited to the following: okra, cucumbers, various peppers, carrots, garlic and asparagus. Also highly excited to use the leftover brine to create the McClure’s Bloody Mary Mixer recipe.

Any words of advice from readers who have pickled before I begin my pickling adventure?

By Jamie J. Hagen

Jamie J. Hagen lives in Brooklyn and is a Contributing Editor for Autostraddle and writer for The Line Campaign. Follow her on twitter @jamiejhagen and visit her personal website for more of her work.

7 replies on “Prepare your Brine, It’s Pickle Time!”

I made a refridgerator pickle a lot like Teri’s last fall that I used on okra and kohlrabi. I boiled the pickle before pouring into canning jars, which caused a sort of quick seal as they cooled. I finished the last of the the okra last week and am working on the kohlrabi now. Point is, a refridgerator pickle can last a great deal longer than Teri’s “a week or two.” Mine lasted six months.

I also canned for the first time last winter, with the boiling and the proofing and the sealing and the DIRE WARNINGS OF DEATH that are always published with canning directions. I did this with beets and cabbage (remember to parboil the cabbage first) and still have those.

You will need to experiment to find the proportions of vinegar to sugar that you prefer. Apple cider makes a much less astringent pickle in my experience. You can also play with flavored vinegars, but they typically have a lower acid level than what is required for a safe, shelf stable pickle, so be careful and only add for flavor rather than replace in equal parts.

A really simple pickle recipe I use is apple cider vinegar, 2 tbsp sugar, celery seed, 1 clove chopped garlic, 1 chili pepper and fresh dill. I usually cut the garlic clove and the pepper in half. It makes kind of a hybrid between a bread and butter and a dill pickle, with lots of savory garlic and heat from the additions. If you don’t enjoy dill pickles, omit the dill, and if you don’t enjoy sweet pickles, omit the sugar. It’s kind of a no fail recipe. You can also use white vinegar instead of you don’t prefer the apple cider variety. Works on both cucumbers and okra. It’s pretty damn delicious. I made several of these last year and they were so good. If you plan to eat them within a week or two, you don’t have to go to the trouble of canning them. My Grandma calls them ‘refrigerator pickles’. I imagine it’d work for other veggies as well.

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