Now that Spring has arrived, it’s time to start thinking about how to put the season’s produce to good use. That doesn’t just mean how you’ll be using it in recipes to come, but also how you’ll be saving and storing any excess for use down the road.
Pickling and, more generally, canning are two ways to get the most use out of your spring fruits and veggies. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them until later in the year, though when that is the case, you’ll be happy to have gone through the trouble. Below are a few ways to get pickled this Spring.
One of the easiest ways to pickle your Spring produce doesn’t involved canning at all and can be done with virtually anything from your garden. Start with a jar and whatever you want to pickle. From onions to cherry tomatoes to green beans, anything’s game. Just make sure it’s fresh.
Once those are in the jar, fill it with equal parts water and vinegar, plus about a tablespoon of kosher salt. This basic brine is enough to flavor what’s inside, but you can go further by adding a mix of herbs and spices that appeals to you. Leave the sealed jars in the fridge for at least 48 hours and they’re ready to eat!
While quick pickles are all about getting pickled vegetables onto your plate sooner, sometimes you want them to last a bit longer. Take classic dill pickles as an example. In order to enjoy these all year round, you’ll need to process them after brining.
Smaller cucumbers with a thinner skin work really well for pickling, but you can use the same method described here with okra, green beans, carrots, or any other firm vegetable. Fill a jar with vegetables and brine as above along with dill seed, garlic, and some red pepper flakes.
After sealing the jar, process it in boiling water for about five minutes. This will create the seal needed to give the jar a shelf life of a year as opposed to mere weeks.
This is an interesting one. When you think of preserving produce, fruits are often associated with something sweet. A jam or jelly, perhaps. You can pickle them as well, though, for a condiment that will go well as part of many sweet/savory combinations.
Strawberries are a great fruit to target for preserving in the Spring, as they grow in colder weather and are probably starting to go out of season. To pickle them in this way, make preserves as you normally would, but let the fruit marinate in a bowl of cider vinegar along with the sugar and salt before cooking.
The resulting preserves are sour and sweet and would go well on ice cream, with a bit of goat cheese, or spooned together with some Greek yogurt.