Thursday, September 6, 2012

How to make all kinds of pickles (or, the Pickling Ninjipedia)

Pickled golden beets
I'm taking a little bit of a different approach to my entry this month for Grow It Cook It Can It's Cook It! 2012 challenge. (If you've been playing along at home, you know that we have already tackled pasta, bread, butter, cheese, lactofermented veg, jam and canned fruit -- wow, that's a lot, isn't it?!)

You see, the challenge for this month is to make pickles.

If you are a regular reader of The Ninj, you know this is like saying, "This month's challenge is to breath."

I'm a pickle junkie and feel I have already given you more than your fair share of pickle musings this year. So I didn't want to subject everyone to simply one more post on how to make pickles.

Therefore, perhaps cheatingly, for the Challenge, I'm giving you a sampling post: that is, I'm summarizing my pickling escapades all in one place. Let's call it the Ninjipedia of pickling.

(Oh man, I supah like that one!)

Pickles, pickles, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

1) Canned Pickles
Traditional waterbath canning: the grandpappy of pickling methods, the one that allows you to have pickles all year long, whenever you want them (as long as you haven't eaten them all).
Canned dill pickles (foreground) and refrigerator pickles (background)

I've been making this one recipe for several years now and it hasn't let me down yet (incidentally, this was one of my very first posts on this blog, too).

2) Refrigerator Pickles
This is my go-to pickle because it takes so little time and yields such awesomely pickly results. As long as I have cucumbers in the garden, I usually have a few jars of these bad boys in the fridge. They are pretty vinegary (which I like) and the taste is more reminiscent of a deli half-sour pickle than a traditional dill. A big shout-out of thanks to Eve at The Garden of Eating for supplying me with this recipe.

3) Lactofermented Pickles
Lactofermentation was actually the May challenge this year. Naturally, I decided to go with pickles (I really want to try Aimee's ginger beer, though).
Lactofermented pickles

Despite the crap I got from readers about using the words "putrefication" and "scum" in my how-to descriptions (I was being accurate, mind you), I thought the pickles were fantastic and surprisingly easy to make -- not to mention that they lasted a super-long time in the fridge.  They tasted like a true barrel-style deli pickle.

4) Other Pickled Veg
Here's where you can get quite creative and will likely end up with some of your favorite pickles -- think outside the cucumber box.

Again, most of these recipes are completed in the refrigerator, so they are quick and easy. I love to add any or all of them (depending what I've got cooking in the fridge at the time) to cheese or charcuterie platters.
Dilly beans
Pickled radishes
Phew! That should keep you fully pickled for the year, doncha think?

Care to share your favorite pickle recipe with the Ninj?


  1. I have a recipe for pickled eggs, but I'm not sure anyone wants that one!

  2. PICKLES, man. I am pretty new to pickling, so I don't have a gigantic repertoire...but I really like these spicy refrigerator carrot pickles!

  3. Those look great, Eileen! I did pickled daikon and carrots (for banh mi) one year but they came out way too spicy -- this would be a nice alternative, thanks!