Giardiniera ~ mixed garden vegetables in vinegary brine ~ is probably Italy's most popular pickle. If the bottled supermarket version of giardiniera is your only reference, you are in for a happy surprise. Homemade giardiniera is much more appealing, crunchy and assertive without being abrasive. This recipe is from Preserving Italy: Canning, Curing, Infusing, and Bottling Italian Flavors and Traditions (2016 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
- 1 medium head cauliflower (1 1/2 pounds), separated into florets
- 1 pound young carrots, sliced on the bias if large, left whole or sliced in half lengthwise if small
- 8 ounces pearl or small cipollini onons, peeled
- 6 to 7 ounces green beans, sliced into 2-inch lengths (2 cups)
- 4 large celery stalks, sliced on the bias into 2-inch lengths (2 cups)
- 1 red bell pepper, cored, trimmed, sliced into thin strips
- 1 yellow bell pepper, cored, trimmed, sliced into thin strips
- 2 cups white wine vinegar
- 2 cups distilled white vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons fine sea salt
- 2 to 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon crushed red chile pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon whole juniper berries
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 sterilized 1-quart jars or six 1-pint jars, and their lids
- Basic water-bath canning equipment (see NOTES)
1. Have the vegetables prepped and ready. Combine the vinegars, water, salt, sugar, peppercorns, crushed red pepper, cloves, juniper berries, and bay leaves in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add all the vegetables and stir. Cover the pot and let the vegetables steep, still on the heat, for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and, with a skimmer or large slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a bowl.
2. Add 2 tablespoons oil to each quart jar or 1 tablespoon to each pint jar. Pack the vegetables into the jars, adding a mix of each vegetable and some of the spices to each jar. Pour the hot brine over the vegetables, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Use a bubble remover to dislodge any air bubbles. Screw the lids on tightly and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. (Alternatively, fill the jars as directed, screw on the lids, let cool to room temperature, then store in the refrigerator.)
3. Store sealed processed jars in a cool, dark place and let the giardiniera cure for at least 1 week before serving (1 month is better if you can be patient). It will keep for up to 1 year. Refrigerate any jars that failed to seal properly and enjoy those first.