Sorry for the delay in posting this but my host had the pictures, and we’ve both had a busy week. The stove in my kitchen has only one working burner (don’t ask… my landlord is… well, I have a stove with one working burner. Nuff said.) That makes canning rather difficult, since at the best of times, you have two pots on the stove, but when I can, it’s usually more like three pots, and sometimes on rare occasions, four! My lovely friend Kari (of the Two Tangled Skeins podcast) has a fully-functional stove and actual counter space in her kitchen (another gripe of mine), and has offered to host my canning activities for the summer. It’s great! I get an actual working kitchen for one day a week, and she gets free canned goods as payment!
Anyway, as most of my Northern Hemispheric friends could probably already tell, summer is in full swing, which means produce is JUMPING off the store shelves at me and farmer’s markets are emitting the siren call I find so hard to resist. Now I have this thing about pickled vegetables. I love them. I could eat myself sick on them. And I like variety… in my pantry currently are the last few jars of pickled asparagus I made during the fall and just about all the pickled zucchini (it was a new recipe and didn’t go over all that well). I also have a jar left of balsamic pickled onion slices, which is a testament to “out of sight, out of mind,” because I *love* these and could eat a jar at one sitting.
I’m not so big on doing cucumber pickles, because I haven’t perfected the recipe yet, and I can get my favorite Polski Ogorki pickles rather easily and inexpensively at the grocery store. But one of the things I can’t easily acquire is good pickled cauliflower. I saw some beautiful, snowy asparagus on sale at the store, and had a sudden urge to pickle all the things, so I settled for pickling the cauliflower. This is what I started out with:
Yes, that’s a box of lemon tea in the background, and no, it wasn’t left there by accident. I had a sudden brainstorm while coming home from the store and decided I was going to make lemon cauliflower pickles. But we had already left the produce shop and hadn’t bought any lemons. So I thought to myself, rather than go back out, why don’t we use what we have on-hand and put lemon tea in the brine water! So that’s what I did. I steeped three lemon tea bags in the water to use in the brine and the kitchen smelled lovely. I have no idea if enough lemon flavor will seep into the cauliflower, but I’m anxious to find out! Unfortunately, I later found out that many other people have had the same brainstorm and that lemon cauliflower pickles are a THING and everybody makes them. *sigh* Usually with actual lemons and stuff too. Oh well. I’m gifted, not a genius!
Lemonish Cauliflower Pickles
two heads cauliflower (about 4 lbs) broken up into florets (discard stems or save for a stir-fry – they don’t pickle well)
One white onion, halved and sliced thin
One bunch fresh dill (don’t use dried, it’s just not the same)
three herbal lemon tea bags (we used Celestial Seasonings Lemon Zinger)
4 cups white vinegar
6 cups water
4 Tbsp coarse salt (I forgot to bring this, but it really changes the quality of the brine, so use it!)
Put empty jars into your water bath canner, fill with water and bring to a boil. DO NOT DROP JARS INTO ALREADY BOILING WATER OR THEY MAY SHATTER! Once boiled, remove the jars from the pot using canning tongs. These are sturdier than regular tongs and you won’t risk dropping your jars. At the same time, steep tea bags in the 6 cups water for about 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and coarse salt and bring to a boil. Set aside.
Place the lids (not the rings, just the flat part) in hot water. Using the cold pack method (not cooking the vegetables beforehand), evenly distribute the cauliflower, onions and dill among 7 pint jars. Spoon the hot brine into the jars to cover the cauliflower, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp cloth or paper towel and place the lid. Screw the band on only until you encounter resistance. With your canning tongs (or jar lifter), place the jars back in the water bath pot and boil for 20 minutes (only start your timer once a the water has returned to a boil).
Remove jars from pot and set on a tea towel on the counter. Wait for the beautiful sound of pinging jars and know that your pantry will shortly be full of delicious pickled cauliflower!