Pickled vegetables taste totally delicious. I'm going to give you my personal favorite vegetables and herb combinations - damn simple and they make great presents. Much cooler than turning up with a bottle of wine. Once you've had success with them, have a go at your own variations. You can use one large jar or lots of smaller ones (I prefer smaller ones because once a jar's been opened it will only last for a week or so in the refrigerator).
Make sure you have some small sterilized jars ready to go. Bring the pickling liquid ingredients to the boil in a big pan. Put the pickling marinade ingredients into a large bowl with your chosen herbs and mix well. Slice up your chosen vegetables any way you like, but if it's a larger vegetable try to get the pieces around 1/2-inch in thickness. This way, the flavors and pickling liquid will penetrate sufficiently. Smaller vegetables, like mushrooms or very small onions, can be left whole.
Place the sliced vegetables in the boiling pickling liquid and leave for around 3 minutes - they'll probably rise to the surface, so keep pushing them down to ensure they are all immersed. Lift the pieces out with a slotted spoon and place them into your bowl of pickling marinade. Toss together - it will smell fantastic.
Pretty much straightaway, put the hot vegetables and pickling marinade into your sterilized jars, filling them to the very top. Cover the vegetables completely with the marinade and put the lids on tightly. Put the jars aside until they're cool. Clean the jars, attach sticky labels and write the date and the contents on them. Store the jars somewhere cool and dark - it's best to leave them for about 2 weeks before opening so the vegetables really get to marinate well, but if you absolutely cannot wait, you can eat them sooner. They'll keep for about 3 months - but they're so bloody good I'm lucky if the jars last for a couple of weeks in our house!
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Choose 1 of the following vegetable and herb options: .
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Properly handled sterilized equipment will keep canned foods in good condition for one year. Making sure hands, equipment and surfaces in your canning area are clean is the first step in canning. Tips: Jars should be made from glass and free of any chips or cracks. Preserving or canning jars are topped with glass, plastic or metal lids that have a rubberlike seal. Two-piece metal lids are most common. To prepare jars before filling: Wash jars with hot, soapy water, rinse them well and arrange them open-side up, without touching, on a tray. To sterilize jars, boil them in a large saucepan, covered with water, for 10 minutes. Jars have to be sterilized only if the food to be preserved will be processed for less than 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath or pressure canner. To sterilize jars, boil them in a large saucepan, covered with water, for 10 minutes. Follow manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and preparing lids and bands. Use tongs or jar lifters to remove hot sterilized jars from the boiling water. Be sure the tongs are sterilized too: Dip the tong ends in boiling water for a few minutes before using them. All items used in the process of making jams, jellies, preserves and pickles must be clean, including any towels and especially your hands. After the jars are prepared, you can preserve the food. It is important to follow any canning and processing instructions included in the recipe and refer to USDA guidelines about the sterilization of canned products. Find Information information on canning can be found at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website: http://nchfp.uga.edu/.
Recipe Excerpted from JAMIE AT HOME by Jamie Oliver. Copyright (c) 2008. Published in the U.S. by Hyperion. All Rights Reserved. Available wherever books are sold. www.jamieoliver.com
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