Monday, July 11, 2011

Pickled Sugar Snap Peas

Until about a week ago, if you told me to do anything with a snap pea besides eat it raw, I would have scoffed. The whole reason I started vegetable gardening was because I wanted fresh snap peas (and tomatoes) and didn't want to pay the astronomical prices they were charging at the grocery store for the subpar selection. Snap peas are best enjoyed right off the vines. And I mean that literally. Our habit is to pick them, tear off the strings, and put them in our mouths. This makes snack time so easy.

This year I planted twice as many seeds as I normally do but it seems we ended up with more than a double harvest. Even after giving some away and blanching and freezing some, I still had quite a few left over.

Of all the ways to enjoy snap peas, pickling never came to mind. I really had to convince myself that pickling them would be a good idea. In the end,  I figured since we had so many and we'd already eaten enough to count for a year's worth of fiber, might as well try something new. I'm glad I did. These pickles were great.

When I need canning information, I always consult my trusted canning reference, the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I've canned many a chutney and jams, but pickles are relatively new ground for me. Who knew there were so many different types of pickles?  After some deliberation, I decided to go the way of brining then pickling. No rhyme or reason, just because it sounded good. If you're not feeling the brine, feel free to skip that step. Instead, add salt to the pickling liquid to taste. You'll save time and still have a tasty pickle on your hands.  By the way, this would work with string beans or just about any other vegetable.

Snap Pea Pickles
An adaptation of Mixed Vegetable Pickles from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
Makes about eight  250ml jars (or  4 pint jars) 
  • 2.5 lbs sugar snap peas, tips and center string removed
  • 1 cup kosher salt (I use Diamond brand) dissolved in about 1 gallon water, cooled
  • 4.5 cups white vinegar
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbs celery seeds
  • 2 tbs yellow mustard seeds
Put the snap peas in a large stainless steel or plastic container and pour the salt water over them. Let them brine for about 12 hours in the refrigerator.  After that time, drain and rinse the pods well with cold water.

In a stainless steel pot, bring the vinegar, sugar and spices to a boil. Allow to boil for a couple of minutes. Add the rinsed peas and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and boil gently for a couple of minutes, enough so the pods are heated through. Pack the pods into clean, hot jars. Add hot pickling liquid, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. (If you have leftover liquid, try making refrigerator pickled red onion. It's delicious on sandwiches.) Wipe rims, center lids on top, and screw on bands to fingertip tight. Process in a water bath canner for 15 minutes then let the jars rest in the canner for about 5 minutes before setting them to cool.

I find that allowing canned foods to rest for at least 2 to 3 weeks allows the flavors to mellow. But I was too curious to wait that long. Although the vinegar still hadn't mellowed, they went great with salami, but I imagine they would compliment any type of charcuterie. Even Hubby, who originally turned up his nose when I told him I was pickling snap peas,  enjoyed them.  

I think I've picked up the pickling bug. So tell me, what should I pickle next?

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