A couple of years ago, I was at my local farmer’s market and found myself standing in front of a large display of pickled things – there were cucumber pickles, pickled asparagus, canned fruit, jams, and many other things, including a tasty looking jar of pickled mixed vegetables. Not looking at the price, I grabbed the jar of pickled vegetables, along with a few other fresh things, paid, and took everything home. As I normally do on weekends, I made myself a sandwich for lunch and then I cracked opened the jar of pickles and put a few on the side of my plate. As soon as I started in on the pickles I exclaimed “Holy crap, these are really good!” and then promptly ate the rest of the jar of pickles. The next weekend, I went back and bought another jar. But this time was a bit different – I didn’t pick up anything else. I brought the jar to the register and the clerk told me it would be $6! SIX DOLLARS. FOR ONE PINT SIZED JAR OF PICKLED VEGETABLES. But they were so good. And I had too much pride to put the jar back at that point, so I paid and took the pickles home. And ate the whole jar in one sitting. This continued on for a few more weeks until one Saturday I sent my husband out by himself to the market with a list. Of course the list included a jar of pickles. So about an hour later he comes home with the jar of pickles in his hand, looks at me and says “You know these are $6 a jar, right? SIX DOLLARS A JAR?!! That’s like a third of our grocery budget going towards your expensive pickle habit!”. Maybe those weren’t the exact words, but I do remember the shame I felt. It was time for a change but I couldn’t give up the pickles, I was addicted! And that is how they became known around our house as pickled crack vegetables.
So once my shameful secret was out, I needed to find some way of satisfying my addiction, but also not spending a third of our grocery budget on pickles. Now I’m definitely someone who wants to support our local farmers, but six dollars for a jar of pickles is a bit ridiculous. And honestly, isn’t saving money the point of preserving your own food? Also, I can somewhat justify replicating the recipe because I still buy a lot of produce from them throughout the year. My apologies if I have offended anyone – I had to do what I had to do.
Now let’s talk about the crack pickles themselves. It’s a really classic basic recipe that you can simply customize to fit your own tastes. You should have a basic knowledge of canning before you begin, but a beginner could easily make this recipe as well. I always use the same vegetables (carrots, beans & cauliflower) but you could mix it up if you want (onions, peppers, peas, beets, etc). What really makes the recipe is the seasoning – I like to keep it really simple so I use fresh garlic, fresh dill, black peppercorns and dry dill seed. The only other ingredients you’ll need besides this and the vegetables are pickling vinegar and pickling salt.
Pickled Crack Vegetables Recipe
– Approximately 2 cups of each fresh vegetable – I use cauliflower, green beans, and carrots, just make sure they are the freshest vegetables you can find (I’ve used grocery store vegetables before, no big deal!)
– Fresh garlic cloves, skins removed (amount will depend on how much you like garlic – I usually put in 2-3 cloves per jar)
– Fresh dill – approximately one sprig per jar
– Black peppercorns and dill seed (approximately 1/2 teaspoon each per jar)
– 2 1/2 cups of pickling vinegar
– 2 1/2 cups of tap water
– 1/4 cup pickling salt (I use kosher)
1. Sterilize all your jars, lids and utensils (I do this in the dishwasher or you can do it in a pot of boiling water).
2. Prepare your boiling water bath.
3. Prepare your vegetables by washing them, removing the ends and any bruises or deformities, and cutting them into manageable pieces.
4. Bring your vinegar, water and salt to a boil in a non-reactive pot and simmer while you prepare the jars.
5. Put your herbs and spices in to the sterilized jars and then add your vegetables.
6. Ladle the hot liquid in to the jars leaving approximately 1/2 inch of head space.
7. Wipe the jar rims with a wet paper towel and add lids (do not over-tighten)
8. Carefully lower the jars in to the boiling water bath and process for 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your jars.
9. Carefully remove the jars, being careful not to tip them, and place on a dish towel on a flat surface. After a couple of hours, check to make sure all of your jars have sealed (I love waiting to hear that popping sound!). Do not disturb the sealed jars for 24 hours. If any jars did not seal, put them in the fridge and eat within a couple of weeks.
10. Enjoy your crack pickles! You should eat them within a year but they probably won’t last that long since they are so good!
My favorite thing about this recipe is that it is so classic and easy. As much as I love experimenting with different hot peppers and spices in my canning, I really love that classic pickled taste.