Monday, September 19, 2011

Holding on to Summer: Easy Pickled Radishes and Pickled Green Beans



I refuse to believe that summer just passed me by this year.  In the blink of an eye, I missed those bright sunny days, sandy trips to the beach, and backyard barbecues.  I could tell you that I don't know how it happened, but really it was just my all-consuming dissertation; I dug in to get the job done, and when you are glued to your computer and working night and day, you barely notice the happenings in the outside world.   


Looking back, it seems a small sacrifice to completely give up one summer of my life in order to close the door on my PhD.  But that is my rational mind speaking - my heart is trying to do the impossible by tugging me back to mid-summer.  It aches for long days without a care, backyard grilling with friends, and plump heirloom tomatoes.  These days, my poor little heart seems surprised to notice that the air is cooler and the days are shorter.  The summer vegetables are beginning to be in scarce supply at the farmers markets as everyone snatches up the last summer corn or brightly colored zucchini.  And since my heart is stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the arrival of fall, I think I can indulge it for just a few more weeks and try to hang on to the last remnants of summer as best as I can. 


So I have been eating ungodly amounts of sweet tomatoes; I grilled corn when I went camping with my sister; and I baked sugary treats with the remaining summer berries.  None of those meals or desserts ended up here on The Cilantropist, because I needed some time to myself to get back in touch with my kitchen, and just cook.  It is so therapeutic and relaxing for me.  But then I decided it was time to grab some of these bright summer veggies and pickle them, and I knew I had to share these with you.    


I made tons of pickles last summer, and used the same great recipes this time around; but then I also decided to experiment with other pickled vegetables like baby corn, green and yellow beans, and radishes.  For pickling some of these veggies, you can either quickly blanch/boil them first to make them more tender, or you can just throw them together with vinegar and spices and let them cure in the refrigerator over a few days.  I chose the latter method. 

For my spices, I used a simple mixture of mustard seeds, black peppercorns, and dill seeds, and then of course I could not resist tossing in a bunch of garlic cloves, and then finally topping it off with a nice spoonful of salt.  I changed the spice ratios slightly for the beans versus the radishes, by deciding to omit the dill seeds and add a pinch of sugar to the latter.  



Since there is no cooking involved in this recipe, all you need to do is add the spices and trimmed vegetables to a jar, and top with vinegar and water.  Then, just close the jar tightly and give it a good shake.  This is merely to dissolve the salt and any sugar, but you can feel free to shake them to your hearts content.  


Then, all that is left to do is stick them in your fridge and just wait.  

I am not a very patient person, so I started checking my veggies less than 24 hours later. The beans were definitely not ready but the radishes were almost there.  After two full days, the radishes were perfect - crunchy and sour with a sharp but sweet taste that immediately took me back to my childhood days.  Growing up, my grandmother used to make a simple radish salad; to my little eyes, I only saw paper thin radish slices, and nothing else in there, and I remember being so curious about what magical technique she used to make those radishes taste so good.  The minute I bit into one of these pickled radishes, I knew.    


Both the pickled beans and the pickled radishes were excellent, but my favorite was definitely the radishes.  Those disappeared within a day of being fully pickled, while I have lingered over the pickled green beans, snacking on them whenever I am craving something crunchy and bright.  In my opinion, these are the perfect snack foods.  But, these recipes also let me hold onto the last days of summer, and for that, more than my tastebuds are grateful.  


You might also like: It's a Pickle Party!
One year ago: Pickled Watermelon Rind (Can you tell I love pickling?)
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Simple Pickled Radishes and Pickled Green Beans


Pickled Radishes:
1 bunch red radishes, or enough to fill a medium mason jar
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1/2-1 tbsp kosher salt
About 2 tsp granulated sugar
6 garlic cloves (or more)

About 1 cup white vinegar
Water

Wash the radishes well, then trim off the bottom root and the top leaves.  Quarter the radishes (though this recipe also works, and works faster, if you thinly slice the radishes) and place them in a medium mason jar or regular jar.  Add the spices, salt, sugar, and garlic cloves.  Fill the jar a little bit more than halfway with the vinegar, and then top off the rest with water.  Close the jar tightly and shake well to dissolve the sugar and salt.  Place the jar in the refrigerator, and the pickled radishes will be ready to eat after two days, but should keep for more than a week.  


Pickled Green Beans:
About 1 lb green beans, or enough to fill a medium mason jar
2 tbsp dill seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1/2-1 tbsp kosher salt
6 garlic cloves (or more) 
About 1 cup white vinegar
Water

Wash the green beans well, then trim off the bottom and the top, or one or the other, or neither.  You just want to make sure they can fit, standing up, in your mason jar.  (Though, it seems if one or both sides of the beans is cut, the pickling liquid works faster.)   Add the spices, salt, and garlic cloves.  Fill the jar a little bit more than halfway with the vinegar, and then top off the rest with water.  Close the jar tightly and shake well to dissolve the sugar and salt.  Place the jar in the refrigerator, and the pickled green beans will be ready to eat after about five days, but should keep for more than two weeks. 

A note: The green beans will be pretty crunchy with this recipe, which I like.  If you want your beans to be a little more tender, you can just briefly blanch them for a few minutes (no more or they will become too soft!) before putting them in the mason jar with the pickling liquid.  With this method, they will be ready to eat a few days earlier.  

23 comments:

  1. A great way of holding on to the summer! Both pickles look delicious.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. I totally understand what you mean. I just bought a bunch of tomatoes and peaches myself--to hold on to the summer!
    Your pickled radish looks so pretty! I would love to try your recipe and am def buying radish when I go food shopping tomorrow. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Great way to preserve summer! I love pickled green beans!

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  4. The pickles are looking so yum, and since its ur grandmas inspiration, it has to be the BEST. I am a big fan of radish pickle, and this one is looking inviting in the jars with checker lids. Regards, sonia !

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  5. Those are some great looking pickles! I've done beans and carrots and beets so far, and still have radishes on the to-do list (though I'm planning to do an asian-style daikon pickle instead). So glad to hear I'm not the only one who gets all impatient to eat her pickles, too. :)
    PS: Pickled baby corn? Oh hell yes. I've got to get on that before the summer's over.

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  6. Never had pickled radishes. They look beautiful!

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  7. I am sooo not ready to say Goodbye to summer - not to heat but to amazing berries and fresh veggies :) Great idea of preserving Summer. Going to miss it. Also great great pictures as always :)

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  8. I have pickled a lot of things, but never radishes. My husband LOVES them so we always plant more than enough and we seem to have them running out our ears in the spring and fall. (Which reminds me to get some planted!) Thanks. As always, great pics.

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  9. I've never pickled radishes either but love the idea. I did pickle some beans and asparagus, though -- for the first time, I might add. I may become the pickler you are! (The dissertation is done!?! Yay!)

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  10. Gorgeous photos....and what yummy pickles!

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  11. I've had pickled green beans but never pickled radishes. Since I like them raw, I bet I would love them!

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  12. I like pickled anything (including but not limited to pigs feet) I would just love to have this as a snack (a healthy snack aside from the pigs feet of course). I have yet to can or really pickle anything.

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  13. Love the photos, been a wile since i had pickles. Great way holding on to summer :)

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  14. The radishes look amazing! I'm going to pickle my tiniest green cherry tomatoes.

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  15. Gorgeous photos! It is hard to say good-bye to summer. I can't believe I need to think about Halloween costumes and treats already!

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  16. Pickled radishes! Why have I never thought of this?! Can't wait to make these -- yum.

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  17. You've had a lot on your plate this summer so it's no surprise it flew by for you. Glad that it's done and you can breath a sigh of relief!

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  18. I've never had a picked radish or green bean that I am aware of - but after seeing these beautiful pictures, I know I want to!

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  19. A nice way to take a lil bit of summer into the coming winter!!!
    Prathima Rao
    Prats Corner

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  20. I kind of missed out on summer too. I just saw this post yesterday and pickled the green beans that were lying, and dying, in my fridge just a few minutes later. I can't wait to try them!

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  21. I've done the radishes and they were divine! Thank you! Question about the green beans: should they have sugar too? You mention it in the directions but not in the list of ingredients.

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  22. Katie: Glad you loved the radishes - they are DEFINITELY my favorite too, very addictive. :) And no, I didn't add any sugar to the green beans, but if you want them a little sweeter you could add it without any problems. Let me know how they turn out!

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  23. Ooo... I have yet to dabble into pickling. Thanks for the recipe!

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