I love that pickling is making a comeback, and for all the right reasons–anyone can pickle, you can pickle just about anything, it’s inexpensive, and it’s a great way to enjoy raw or nearly raw foods.
As a child, I grew up eating pickled herring, beans and asparagus spears. I also ate regular dill pickles, which I actually didn’t crave during my two pregnancies, but became addicted to years later. (Too much of a good thing is bad, right?) But despite the fact that pickled foods have been around for eternity, this past year, I’ve noticed that many of the fancy and/or hip farm-to-table themed restaurants in our area now offer an assortment of pickled vegetables on their menus. We have a favorite little restaurant in the Russian River Valley wine region called The Backyard. They serve consistently good food, offer a nice selection of wines and if the weather is nice, you can enjoy your meal outside under a giant California oak. (Does life get any better than that?) The last three times we’ve eaten at The Backyard, they have served a delightful mix of pickled things. I know “things” isn’t very descriptive, but the pickled items have included everything from watermelon rinds to shitake mushrooms–all delicious and perfectly pickled.
Sadly, we don’t make it up to the wine country often enough. So instead of enjoying pickled vegetables only on occasion, I decided I needed to enjoy them on a daily basis. As I mentioned, you can pickle just about anything, and you can flavor the pickling many different ways. I have never appreciated sweet pickles or sweetly pickled vegetables, so this recipe is for your classic savory, dill flavor.
I photographed two different batches for this posting, one in which I used carrots, daikon radish, and red onion, the other in which I used beets, carrots, and daikon. With both batches, I flavored them simply with salt, yellow mustard seeds (which you also eat once they’re pickled), garlic and bay leaves. Provided you use clean jars to store your pickled vegetables, they will keep refrigerated for two weeks.
5 cups vegetables (carrots, beets, radishes, celery, watermelon rind, mushrooms, onions, etc.)