I’m an avid pickler, must have some on hand at all times. After years of “putting by” in sealed jars, I have turned away from that chore and now prefer fresh pickles. There’s no need for processing the jars to store on the pantry shelf nor
for lengthy resting in the frig while they cure. They are ready to serve within the next day or two. To that end, I have developed the following “magic brine” based on the Armenian toursi pickles of my childhood, always on hand to bring out when there was occasion to serve a preprandial gnosh, but with my twist, lots of dill weed and a touch of dried red chili pepper.
The best part is that this one simple brine can serve for several vegetables. My favorites for fresh pickling this way are cauliflower, okra (the best, though no one will believe you until they have a taste, then, wow!), green bell peppers, and cucumbers (a surprise because we usually think of them as needing to cure for up to three weeks before they’re ready; not so), and green tomatoes. Another best part is that you can make a big batch of the brine, double or triple the recipe, and keep it in the pantry to use in small amounts as needed–being a vinegar and salt solution with no particulates, it won’t spoil, ever.
Makes 2 quarts pickles
2 quarts cauliflower florets; or whole okra pods; or pickling cucumbers, halved lengthwise; or green bell pepper quarters, seeded; or green tomato halves or quarters
2 small dried red chilies
2 cloves garlic, halved
1 bunch fresh dill
For the Brine:
7 cups distilled white vinegar
4 cups filtered water
3/4 cup kosher salt
1. Tightly pack whatever vegetable you are using in a 2 quart jar (smaller jars work as well, but I like the visual drama and generosity of a large one), tucking in the garlic, dried chilies, and dill as you go. Set aside.
2. To make the brine, combine the vinegar, water, and salt in medium size pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir and right away, pour into the jar with the vegetables, filling it all the way to top. Set the jar aside, uncovered, at room temperature for several hours until completely cool all the way through, overnight is okay.
3. Cover the jar and refrigerate overnight. Serve as wanted. The pickles will keep “fresh” for up to several weeks.