Perfect homemade pickles
Previous generations, it seems, were wise to the providence of pickling. Where once pantry shelves were lined with colourful pickles and preserves for all seasons, today’s shelves seem more bare than bountiful.
Pssst, pass it on
But, like so many traditional skills, the pickling trend is on the rise.
Those who were lucky enough learned by Grandma’s side. The rest of us, thankfully, have Marcia Fordyce—Chef, Caterer, pickling pundit, and founder of Copper Pot Preserves in Squamish, BC.
It was a family tradition, she explained, “My Grandma and my Mom were always huge makers of preserves in the Summer and Fall, and taught me what was what.”
After working as a chef for many years in local restaurants, she started gifting jars of pickles to family and friends.
It wasn’t long before orders for more came flooding in. “Everyone loved it!” she said.
Fresh from the farmers
Fordyce now sells her treats to pickle fans throughout the Corridor at local farmers’ markets from Whistler to Vancouver.
“My whole thing is to take a gourmet twist on a home cooked treat…it’s not just your average strawberry jam,” she said about her small batch preserves. “I cook in season and go for what’s local from the farmers.”
There are endless opportunities and flavours with pickles, she explained, but the key, she said, is freshness.
“The key to good picking is a fresh product for sure. That and balancing out the flavours properly.”
Though you can pickle just about anything, newbies would do well to start with carrots and dill, Fordyce explained, as they’re more forgiving than produce such as beans and asparagus, she explained.
This Zesty Pickled Carrot recipe was inspired by her mother-in-law’s recipe for garlic dill pickles.
“Pickled carrots are one of my favourite memories from childhood,” she said. “My grandma used to make, but they’re not easy to find so I started pickling them.”
- Although pickling can involve a lot of trial and error, starting with fresh, cold products and proper methods is essential. “Creating something that’s nice and crisp is one of the hardest things to master,” she said.
- Note that cooking times can vary depending on the size of jars that you’re using
- Grape vines can help keep the produce crisp
- Choose vinegar with 5% or more acetic acid
- 6 500ml wide-mouth jars with lids and rings
- Canning pot with rack
- 7 pounds fresh carrots (local, if possible)
- Dill seed or fresh pickling dill if available
- 18-24 garlic cloves (approx 3 heads)
- Bay Leaves
- Chili Flakes
- Mustard Seeds
- Celery Seeds
- 3 cups vinegar or your choice. Natural or apple cider vinegar is good (just be sure it is no less than 5% acetic acid)
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon pickling salt
- Fill your canning pot with water and add in your clean canning jars. Bring to a boil to sterilize the jars.
- Place rings aside, and add the lids to a small pot (over which you will later pour hot, boiled water from a kettle)
- Peel and cut carrots to the desired size (I like carrot spears for this recipe). Just ensure you have about an inch of space from your veggies to the rim of your jar when deciding the size.
- Place carrots in a bowl, cover with damp cloth and cool in fridge (a quick ice bath also works well)
- Place vinegar, water and pickling salt in a pot and get it hot
- Pour hot water from the kettle over your canning lids and set aside.
- Once canner has boiled, carefully remove sterilized jars to a tray and begin to fill (I hold the hot jars with a cloth or kitchen towel to fill). In each hot jar place 3-4 garlic cloves, 1/2tsp of dry dill seed OR a fresh head of pickling dill, 1/4tsp mustard seed, 1/8tsp celery seed, 1/8tsp peppercorns, 1/8tsp chili flakes, and 1 bay leaf.
- Jam cold, cut carrots into the jar tightly, and carefully pour the brine over them, leaving about 1/2 inch of ‘headspace’ in the top of the jar.
- Gently tap jars on counter to remove any trapped air bubbles, and add a bit more brine if necessary.
- Using a clean damp cloth, wipe the rims of your jars to remove any brine to ensure a proper seal.
- Place lids on jars and screw them on (not too tight! You can tighten after they have sealed)
- Place jars on rack back in the canning pot. Cover with a lid and boil for 10 minutes (start the timer when the water returns to the boil).
- Carefully remove jars from boiling water and place on a towel-lined tray to cool for 24 hours.
- Store in a cool dry place and enjoy your bounty in the fall!
- Canned products are good for about a year from the time you process them.