August 12, 2008

Gingered Sweet Pickled Cauliflower

When I was a kid my parents would always have sweet mixed pickled vegetables in our fridge. Eschewing the mundane cucumbers and the kid-unfriendly pearl onions, I would fish around in the jar for every last piece of cauliflower. As an adult I discovered that they sell jars of all cauliflower!! But the flavor is never as complex and appealing as the cauliflower in the mixed sweets. After making a batch of refrigerator pickles, I had pickles on the brain when I made my first shopping trip to the new Whole Foods in Rochester Hills. As promised there was a good selection of local produce. As I first walked in the door a pile of large, beautifully white, local cauliflower caught my eye. I knew immediately that I wanted to try my hand at making a more flavorful sweet pickled cauliflower. I grabbed a head of cauliflower along with a hot chile, some garlic and a good three finger piece of fresh ginger and headed home. Canning is hot, steamy, messy business so the cool, breezy weather this past Sunday was perfect. I took a basic sweet cauliflower recipe and added in my chosen aromatics. The results were delicious! I think I overcooked the cauliflower a little since they weren't as crunchy as I would have liked but I loved the flavors. The ginger and chile were just what I was craving. There was the right amount of heat and a powerful gingery component. If I have time soon, I'm making them again because I know I'm going to snack my way through these jars quickly. This week was a perfect time to make these because it's my father's birthday on Saturday and he should love these hot and sweet pickles. Now, if I can just find some pearl onions for the next batch...

Here is my recipe, along with the original I based it on and links to more information on canning:
Gingered Sweet Pickled Cauliflower
Makes ~5 pints

12 cups cauliflower florets, 1-2 inch pieces
4 cups distilled white vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 cups thinly sliced sweet onion
1 hot red chile pepper, thinly sliced (I think mine was a cayenne)
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated ginger

The base of this recipe as well as full instructions can be found at the
National Center for Home Canning. Please read Using Boiling Water Canners before beginning. If this is your first time canning, you should also read Principles of Home Canning.

-After trimming and measuring, wash the cauliflower florets and boil in salted water for 3 minutes for cauliflower. Drain and cool.
-Measure out your mustard seed and place in a dry skillet over medium heat. Toast the mustard seeds. You'll know they're done when they start jumping around and popping.
-Add the mustard seeds to a large pot with the other spices, vinegar, sugar, onion, chile, and garlic. Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes.
-Distribute the onion and a good spoonful of spices into the bottom of each jar. Then fill the jars with florets and top it off with more pickling solution, leaving 1/2-inch of headspace.
-Follow the boiling water method timing for your altitude shown on Table 1. For those at sea level using pint sized jars they should be processed for 10 minutes.
-They'll be best if you let the flavors to develop for a few days before consuming but go ahead and eat them as soon as they're cooled off.

My aromatics
[sweet onion, ginger, mustard seed, hot red chile, garlic, turmeric (mostly for color)
and Comet's Tail black pepper (I just think they are pretty)]

The brine after simmering Filling the jars I love the look of cauliflower closeup!

Other pickling related stuff:
I used this recipe for dan koshansky’s refrigerator pickles from A Way to Garden and they were delicious. The cucumbers and dill came from my father in law's garden. (Thanks Papou!) You have to stop in and see the Chinese Red Noodle beans and other cool plants she's growing.

Cincinnati Locavore has a good article, Killer Canning, or How to Avoid Poisoning Anyone. It gives some rules about how to be careful when trying new canning recipes. My personal opinion is that if you find a recipe that looks good but you don't feel like it's trustworthy then make a smaller batch and refrigerate. Then you can eat within a week or two.


Ning said...

I love pickled vegetables, but I haven't tried pickling them myself. Thank you for the inspiration. Your jar of cauliflowers looks mouthwatering!

VeggieGirl said...

I've actually never eaten pickled vegetables before... looks intriguing!!

Joelen said...

One of these days I'll tackle pickling... because your cauliflower looks wonderful!

Margaret said...

Love pickling, especially when we are granted a less-than-steamy summer day, as you say. Great post, and thanks for linking in.

Kevin said...

That pickled cauliflower sounds good.

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) said...

I have a similar recipe and it is amazing how many people who normally would not touch cauliflower, dig into this at a BBQ. I love the light in the photos.

Priti said...

This looks something very different and tasty..can try for sometime sure...thanks for sharing the recipe :)

Adam said...

Hey, I'm happy I found a fellow pickler (yup that's a word now). We usually do pickles, onions and beets in my house, but I've never done cauliflower. This is a great idea. I'm going to have to try to pickle this super veggie.

Do you think there's a "quick" way to pickle cauliflower. Ya know, like fridge pickles?

Maggie said...

Ning, VeggieGirl, Joelen, Kevin, Priti: I hope you get a chance to try them.

Margaret: I love your site and I really liked the dill fridge pickles. Thanks for stopping by.

Nina: Thanks! I really do need to plan a BBQ. I wonder if I can avoid eating them all before Labor Day?

Adam: I think you could easily do a quarter of a recipe for fridge pickles. It wouldn't quite fill a quart jar but her are approximate amounts that I think would work:

1/4 Recipe for making refrigerator pickles
Makes ~3/4 of a quart

3 cups of cauliflower pieces
1 cup vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1/4 hot red chile, sliced (~1/2 teaspoon) or substitute 1/8 teaspoon dried hot chile flakes
1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seed
1/4 teaspoon whole black pepper (3-4 peppercorns)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 glove of garlic, sliced (or one small clove)
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger

-Cook the cauliflower pieces 2-3 minutes in salted water. Drain and cool.
-Toast the mustard seed in a dry pan. Add the mustard seed to the vinegar, sugar, chile, onion and the rest of the spices. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes.
-Fill a clean quart jar with the cauliflower and then top with the brine (the cooked vinegar mixture).
-Cool and refrigerate.
*I'd definitely leave these for a full week before you eat them since they aren't getting cooked with the brine like when you give them a boiling water treatment.

Maggie said...

BTW, I haven't tested the above recipe. It's just what I would do if I wanted to try these without going through the canning process.

sefa firdaus said...

My hubby loves pickled vegetables. I'll give this one a try. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Btw, thanks for visiting my blog.

kellypea said...

That sounds so good! I used to fish around in those jars for the cauliflower -- my sister those pearl onions you mentioned. Haven't ever canned anything. It's criminal! But I've been thinking about it. Thanks for the suggestion about refrigeration for us novices...

Rachel said...

Just discovered your great blog. And now I have a kitchen project with the cauliflowers I have grown in the garden this year (with success for the first time, I might add). Thank you!

KitchenGirl said...

ohhh those look divine :) Mmmm :) nice photos too!

maybelles parents said...

oh, these look delicious. I bet they would be good on a muffalatta. (sp?)

Dave said...

What a delicious-looking pickle. I've saved out the recipe and plan to try it very soon. Thanks for sharing!

Jude said...

Scared do do any form of canning as of yet. If I ever take it up I'll be sure to go back to your recipe.

Maggie said...

sefa firdaus: I hope he likes them. You have a great blog!

kellypea: Canning can be an ordeal, but it's worth it when you see the finished jars all lined up.

Rachel: I hope you like them. I've only grown Romanesco cauliflower and it always came up stunted and small. I need to give growing cauliflower another try.

KitchenGirl: Thanks!

maybelles parents: That's sounds really good! I was thinking about trying them on a Cuban sandwich.

Dave: I hope you get a chance to try them.

Jude: You could always try making a single jar and keep them as refrigerator pickles. I quartered the recipe above if you'd like to try.

shellyfish said...

How funny! I just spent the better part of the past 7 weeks in the US and guess where? Rochester, MI! Small little world, hey?

I am really excited about trying this - I have been thinking more and more about trying canning & pickles & such. I hope I get to try this - thanks for the links!

Tom Aarons said...

My grandmother used to make this, and I've spent years missing it. I'll have to try making my own. Thanks!

Maggie said...

shellyfish: It is crazy how small the world can seem sometimes! At least Michigan had some decent weather for your visit. I hope you get a chance to do some pickling.

Tom Aarons: I hope you like them. You'll have to let me know how they compare to your grandmother's.

Salt N Turmeric said...

ooo this would be perfect with briyani rice, chicken or beef. Im gonna save this recipe. Thnanks for sharing! ;)


Jeni Q said...

These look delish, but I'm not interested in actual canning, so I made the fridge pickles.
They're for dinner on Friday and I made them just now, so I hope they're "done."


Maggie said...

Farina: That does sound good!

Jeni Q: I hope you like them.

greeseyparrot said...

Re "the kid-unfriendly pearl onions". As a kid I loved the sweet pickle veggie mix, but the pearl onions were what I "fished out" first!
(Though I will admit that once I'd managed to ferret out all of the onions, the cauliflower were what came next.)