How To Pickle Anything : Basic Brine Recipe

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All you need is fresh produce and a basic brine to pickle just about anything. In the spring try strawberries, swiss chard, tomatoes; for summer peaches, okra, green beans, figs; and in fall cucumbers, eggplant, peppers and beets to get you through the winter. 

For every 1-lb of produce:

½ cup rice wine or apple cider vinegar 

1 cup very hot water

5 tbsp. sugar (optional)

2 tsp. kosher salt (or to taste)

The essence of pickling is to make sure that everything gets sterilized at the start of the process and keeps sterile throughout the process; you may blanch your vegetables to get the germs off, but this may make your pickles less firm. Sterilize your jars in a hot water bath. In medium pot dissolve sugar and salt in rice vinegar and water and bring to boil. Wash, clean and chop your vegetables and sort them into clean bowls. Get out your spices and make them easily accessible - for sweet pickles, add sugar and garlic.  For smoky pickles, add black cardamom, chipotles, etc.  After you add the spice, pack the vegetables into the jars. Pour the hot pickle juice over the pickles, leaving 1/4-1/2" space at the top. Carefully seal jars and put them into a hot water bath.  Make sure there is at least 1" of water covering the lids, and bring to a boil.  Boil for 7-10 minutes. Note: If boiled for less time, there is a greater risk that it won't seal or kill the bacteria, but your pickles will be crisper. Pick your battles! 

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