I'm going to let you in on a little secret... it's how I make the most amazing Bloody Mary every: homemade pickles. It's not as hard as you might think. In fact, these Easy Cocktail Pickles can quickly turn your favorite veggie into the perfect cocktail garnish, so you'll be drunk dialing your ex in no time!
Honestly, you can use any veggies you like here. Anything that has a bit of heft to it will work. However, I wouldn't use, say, tomatoes. Well, maybe cherry tomatoes. I will have to try that next time.
No additional prep is really required. This recipe is a riff on quick pickles, where they suggest blanching them first. However, I prefer a bit of crispness to my pickle and blanching them only softens them up more. I think the time they spend in the hot pickling liquid is more than enough exposure to heat.
Once you trim off the greens, peel them, and what not, just shove as many veggies as you can into a quart-sized mason jar. But you want enough room for the pickling brine, and all of the lovely spices we are about to add. FACT: If you like canned anything, you can thank Napoleon for that! During the 19th century, he and the French military offered up 12,000 francs to anyone who invented a better way for feeding the troops. Parisian chef Nicolas Appert, who had already been experimenting with canning, eventually mastered how to boil food in jars and keep it safe for eating. Though, he didn't really know why. That came some-50 years later with Louis Pasteur. Appert was awarded the cash and eventually wrote The Art of Preserving Animal and Vegetable Substances, the first cookbook of its kind on modern food preservation.
In a small saucepan, combine the following: 2 tablespoons black peppercorns, 2 tablespoons mustard seeds, 2 tablespoons sea salt, 6 dried chiles de arbol, 2 bay leaves, 6 peeled garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon caraway seed, 1/4 cup of sugar, and 2 1/2 cups of apple cider vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.
Transfer the brine to the mason jar, adding in all of that spiced goodness, lemons and all. Add just enough water such that all of the veggies are covered. Seal it up, let it cool a bit, then place it in the fridge. But don't dive into these pickles for at least 24 hours.
I suggest using them up within the week. That seems to be the optimal amount of time where texture and flavor is maintained. Also, this is a quick pickle, and nothing was sterilized, so these aren't made to sit in your pantry for a year. Keep them in the fridge!