There’s something about canning that has an air of nostalgia to it. Perhaps your grandparents were the ones who first introduced you to this idea. Or, your parents perhaps. Neither one of us comes from a family of canners, but we do have interest. It’s the perfect way to preserve seasonal freshness of fruits or vegetables when they are at their peak. Almost anything can be canned–tomatoes, beans, peaches, rinds and seeds. It’s an easy, inexpensive way to have food at the tips of your fingers when their season for availability may be far off. Sometimes, though, you just can to can. Not because you necessarily want summer corn in the dead of winter, but just because you want something to break through the boredom of a slow Saturday afternoon. Unequipped with tongs and mason jars, you can still pull off a means of veggie preservation. You can always find a way around an obstacle.
Pickles, oh sweet pickles. Cucumbers packed in a sweet, salty brine that adds flavor of course and also provides short-term preservation. This is the easy way to do your own canning in a pinch. These jars are not boiled, filled, sealed and boiled again. If you’re willing to shorten the amount of time you can hold on to your goodies, try this quick ‘can’ method, also called refrigerator pickles. Save leftover lidded jars, pack them with your food, brine and seal. You have pickled in a pinch. Pickling spices can be found at any grocery store. Most of the ingredients are the same–cloves, black peppercorns, allspice, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, fennel seeds, celery seeds, caraway seeds–and you can adjust the flavors you want by adding additional whole spices. As for the cuke, choose one without the waxy skin on American cucumbers. Persian and English varieties are great. Diana from Diana Takes a Bite just used Persian cukes also for her pickles not too long ago. The goal was to end up with a sweet pickle to rival those at Joan’s on Third–one that will make any sweet pickle fan buy four cases at a time from the shop. Brown sugar, molasses and apple cider vinegar add a rich, pleasing flavor that evens out the back end bite from extra red pepper flakes. Give them away or eat them all yourself. With a canning method like this, you can do it whenever the desire calls.
Spicy Brown Sugar Pickles – Approximately four 12-ounce jars
8 large Persian cucumbers, cut into 1/8″ slices
1/2 medium red onion, sliced thin
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons pickling spices
2 teaspoons celery seed
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1. Toss the cucumber and onion slices together in a large bowl. Set aside.
2. Wash, rinse and completely dry four 12-ounce jars with lids. Evenly distribute the cucumbers and onions between the bottles. Set aside.
3. Pour the remaining ingredients into a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. Bring to low boil, then reduce to a simmer. Stir well, making sure all of the sugar has dissolved, approximately 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
4. Once the liquid has cooled, carefully divide the brine between all four jars. Apply the lids and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Eat the pickles within two weeks.
Click HERE for the printable recipe.