First Pickle of the Season -- Giardiniera

This fresh tasting Italian pickle is a staple a a salad garnish at our local Italian restaurant. I have become totally addicted to it, and thus inspired to pickle my own. I plan to pickle many things this summer, but this is the first of the season.

For this recipe you'll need about 3 quarts of clean, chopped vegetables, to make 6 canned pints. You can vary the ingredients to suit your taste (and what you have on hand.) Other common ingreidents are pepperoncinis, sweet red peppers, shallots, cucumbers, and small onions.

Last night I used:

1 cauliflower head, broken into florets
3 Celery stalks, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch lengths
2 carrots, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
12 garlic cloves
6 bay leaves
Coriander seeds or Peppercorns
6 oregano sprigs
2 hot peppers, cut into 1/4 inch rings
4 teaspoons pickling salt
2 3/4 cups Apple Cider Vinegar or White Wine Vinegar
2 1/2 cups H2O
6 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1. Into each of the 6 pint jars, put 1 bay leaf, 2 garlic cloves, 1 sprig of oregano, and several coriander seeds or peppercorns.
2. Combine the prepared vegetables in a bowl and pack them into the jars, shaking the jar to help settle the vegetables.
3. Put the 2-piece lids in a bowl of very hot water to help soften the sealing compound and let sit.
4. In a nonreactive saucepan (aluminum or copper can change the taste of your pickle) bring to a boil the vinegar, water, and salt, stirring to dissolve the salt. Pour the hot liquid over the vegetables, leaving 1/2 inch headspace at the top. Top each jar with a tablespoon of olive oil. Close the jars with hot two piece caps, and process them for 20 min in a boiling-water bath.
5. Store the pickles in a cool, dark place for at least 3 weeks before eating.

This recipe is adapted from "The Joy of Pickling", a fantastic book.

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