By Ben Olson
A curious thing happened in my mid-30s: I grew infatuated with pickling vegetables. Not only is pickling a great way to preserve vegetables grown in our home gardens, they are delicious and nutritious. What follows are two recipes that have served me well, for sweet pickled beets and spicy jalapeño carrots.
Sweet pickled beets
• 10 pounds fresh beets, stems removed
• 2 cups white sugar
• 1 tbsp pickling salt
• 1 quart white vinegar
• whole cloves (4 per jar)
Place beets in a large stockpot with water to cover them, bring to a boil and cook until tender (about 15-20 minutes). If you have larger beets, be sure to cut them in half or quarters. The goal is to have all beets roughly the same size. Drain and reserve 2-3 cups of the beet water. Cool and peel, slice into pieces.
Sterilize canning jars and lids by immersing them in boiling water for at least 10 minutes.
While jars are being sterilized, start the brine. Combine sugar, 2 cups of beet water, vinegar and pickling salt. Bring to a rapid boil.
When jars are ready, remove one at a time from boiling water, place 4-5 whole cloves in the bottom of the jars, then fill each jar with beets. Take care to leave 1/2 inch of space from the top of the jar.
Pour hot brine into the jars. If you are short on brine, top off with remaining beet water. Seal the lids and sterilize finished jars by placing them on a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot. Boil for 10 minutes and carefully remove jars. Later, if any of the seals are sticking up (that is, they didn’t seal properly), separate those jars from the rest and eat them within a couple weeks (just keep them in the fridge).
Spicy jalapeño pickled carrots
• 4 pounds large carrots
• 5 large jalapeños
• 10 cloves of garlic, smashed
• 3 cups white vinegar
• 3 cups water
• 2 tbsp vegetable oil
• 10 bay leaves
• 4 tsp dried Mexican oregano
• 2 tsp salt
• Black peppercorns
Peel and slice carrots. Slice jalapeños into thin diagonals. Some like round carrot slices, I prefer sticks (just make sure they aren’t too long for the jar). In a large stockpot, add garlic, vinegar, water, oil, bay leaves, peppercorns, oregano and salt. Bring to a boil and add carrots and jalapeños. Lower heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes uncovered.
Allow carrots and brine to cool completely. When carrots are almost cool, sterilize jars and lids, then fill with carrots and top with brine (leave 1/2 inch from the seal). Put sealed jars into another boiling water bath for 10 minutes and make sure the lids seal. Enjoy!
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