I love giving and receiving gifts of food at Christmas time. Actually, I love it any time! The ringing of the door bell and finding a friend holding a plate of cookies brings a smile to my face. That pretty jar of hot fudge sauce will be delicious on vanilla ice cream eaten by a roaring fire in January. Those gaily wrapped biscotti will, as always, be perfect with a cup of tea and a good book to curl up with.
If there are any of you who get too much of a sweet thing (are there any of you out there?) during the holidays, here's a recipe that is sure to please those with a taste for all things pickled. I think I'm going to add whole green beans to my pot this year. I collect jars throughout the year but especially love the Weck jars (on the left). They are perfect for gifting.
Winter Vegetables Pickled as inspired by Southern Living Magazine
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. black peppercorns
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
8 cups of assorted vegetables cut into about 1 1/2 inch pieces
1. Bring the first seven ingredients and 2 1/2 cups water to a boil in a large, non-aluminum, saucepan, stirring until the sugar and salt is dissolved. Boil for one minute. Allow to stand for several hours.
2. In the meantime, cook the vegetables, in batches, in boiling water to cover for 1 to 2 minutes depending on the vegetable and your desired crispness. Remove to a cold water bath to stop the cooking process and drain well.
3. Place the vegetables into a large bowl. Heat the warm vinegar mixture until a few bubbles appear and pour over the vegetables and let stand for one hour. Store in airtight containers and cover with the liquid. Chill overnight. The pickled vegetables will keep for about two weeks refrigerated.