For some reason, the pickling bug hit me hard this summer! Every fruit and vegetable that came through my kitchen was eligible for pickling, and most of that is because of my new pickling book, Joy of Pickling, by Linda Ziedrich.
The book starts out with a Pickle Primer, going over many of the basics that the home cook needs to know before embarking on pickle making, including information about salts, vinegars, herbs and spices, necessary tools (a canner, a jar lifter, kitchen tongs, a large mouth canning funnel, jars with two piece lids, and a long chopstick or rubber spatula to remove bubbles), and storage recommendations. Armed with this information, you read through the rest of the book and find the recipes that strike your fancy.
I embarked on an exploration of the variations of watermelon pickle, making both the Minty Watermelon Pickles and Dark Watermelon Pickles. Thinking ahead to Thanksgiving, I also made a batch of Cherry Relish, and when I am inundated with Zucchini, I plan to make Zucchini Bread & Butter Pickles and Zucchini Relish.
Ziedrich also taught me some tricks for pureeing tomatoes (use a stainless steel food mill with slightly cooked tomatoes) and suggested purchasing all-plastic mason jar caps to replace the metal rings once the jars are open.
The recipes are easy to follow, and in the case of Cherry Relish, because of how onerous pitting cherries is, Ziedrich made the recipe a manageable size. Some of the recipes are quite detailed (Watermelon Pickles and Sauerkraut with Juniper Berries both come to mind) but Ziedrich goes through the instructions carefully and clearly, which yields a good finished product. She also includes recipes from many cultures, and it is fascinating to compare pickles from Thailand, Vietnam and Japan.
If you are interested in learning more about pickling at home, I recommend this book easily. And then you can be like me, with a garage full of pickles jars in every shape and size!