My dear grandpa is a very generous man, whenever he receives a gift from somebody he usually passes it on to me or one of his daughters. This not only includes little giveaways from the pharmacy, but – and this is obviously the better part – more food gifts than anybody could ever eat on his own. Close friends and relatives always make sure that his pantry is well stocked with cured meats, homemade jams and sweat treats.
Each year when we celebrate our family’s Christmas feast, he takes me aside and hands over my Christmas box, filled to the brim with all kinds of delicious food. And he never forgets to ensure me, that I – being his only grandchild – of course would only get the very best selection. The box always contains an enormous piece of cured meat from a farmer close by, a huge bag of cookies from the Kinseller family, different jams from his neighbors and only sometimes one or two jars of homemade pickles from aunt Lene.
While I was a bit sceptical at first (I never considered myself a lover of pickles), the homemade versions won me over right away. They were spicier than expected and added a lovely crunch to sandwiches – especially if it had leftovers from a homemade roastbeef and mayonnaise to go with it. So I began experimenting with pickles myself.
Today, I make sure our fridge never runs out of pickles anymore, they are just so easy and quick to prepare. And the variations are endless… you can totally customize the spices you add, give it an Asian flavor with ginger and lemongrass, go Indian with curry and cardamom – ahhh, the choices! Usually I prepare a new jar shortly before we empty another, which makes for a quick turnaround time (less than 2 weeks) and I don’t even need to worry about sterilizing the jars beforehand. Just keep them in the fridge and snack away on crunchy vegetables whenever you are craving something with a “Zing!”.
Prepare the vegetables (I used carrots, radish and cucumber), peel and cut into fine julienne stripes, either using a mandoline, your knife skills or one of these tools. The stripes shouldn’t be too long, otherwise eating the pickles gets difficult. Cut the chili into fine slices and mix with the rest of the prepared vegetables.
Peel the ginger and cut it into fine slices. Add vinegar, water, sugar, salt, ginger slices and anise pods (if using) to a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and let the brine steep for a couple of minutes. I sometimes feel like adding a little Asian note, then I pull out a bottle of fish sauce and add a few splashes as well…
Tightly fill the clean or sterilized jars with the julienne stripes. If you are up for a more pronounced ginger/anise note you can distribute the ginger slices and anise pods among them. Finally pour the brine over until everything is well covered. Close the jar and carefully tap on the counter to make sure air bubbles float to the top, then refrigerate at least over night until using on your next sandwich.
Julienne pickles with ginger & anise
Recipe source: own creation
Prep. time ~20 min, chilling: at least over night
Ingredients (for one jar, 400-500 ml):
2-3 cm/1 inch fresh ginger
100 ml white wine vinegar
100 ml water
50 g caster sugar
1 tsp fine sea salt
2 star anise pods (optional)
~200 g julienne vegetables (like cucumber, carrots, radishes, etc.)
1 mild green chili (e.g. cayenne pepper)