Giardiniera, that delicious mixed veggie bowl of tangy, salty, tasty pickles, is ridiculously easy to make. Gather up any extra veggies you have, chop them up, and toss them in. You’re on your way to an amazing side and snack. I do enjoy cauliflower, garlic, carrots, and pepperocini as the backbone of any good giardiniera, but you should find what works for you.
After about a 2 week fermentation, I waterbath can these pickles, although you don’t have to. You could jar them up and keep them in the fridge, enjoying as a live culture snack! I can mine so that they stay crispy for long term storage. I don’t can most things I ferment, but these I’ve decided I like to be shelf stable amongst other things.
Most commercial versions of these pickles I’ve seen are made with red or white wine vinegar and olive oil. However, what’s great is that the fermentation eventually creates the same pH environment as would vinegar that’s necessary for waterbath canning, but with more depth of flavor.
Below is a loose recipe for a batch of veggies that filled a 2 gallon bucket unfermented and created 5 quarts of Giardiniera. Feel free to substitute different vegetables like fennel, shallots, radishes, etc., just keep the brine ratio the same.
- 1 head cauliflower
- 6 medium carrots
- 3 yellow summer squash or pickling cucumbers
- 1 large onion, 2 small
- 1 bulb garlic
- 1 pint pepperocini peppers
- 2 bell peppers
- 4 hot long chilis
- handful of fresh thyme or oregano
- 8 sage leaves
- 6 Bay leaves
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- Pickling or unrefined sea salt
- Filtered or otherwise unchlorinated water
- Wash all vegetables and chop all veg into 1″ dice or florets – think large yet still bite sized pieces.
- For the garlic, peel each clove and leave whole.
- Leave small peppers, like pepperocini and long chilis, whole.
- Peel carrots and squash if you like.
- Layer vegetables in a large, 2 gallon glass container or plastic bucket. After each layer include a few sprigs of herbs and some of the sage and bay leaves. When the container is full pour half of the apple cider vinegar over.
- Mix a 2-5% brine using salt and filtered water – add the salt to the water and stir until completely dissolved. My house is typically very warm in the summer, so I use a 5% brine to produce slower fermentation, but the amount of salt to use is up to you! I use this brine calculator to figure out the amounts I need. I typically mix up brine by the quart and pour over the veg. I’ll have to make brine a few times, but doing it by the quart ensures I don’t make too much. This recipe for me took about 4.5 quarts.
- Pour brine over the vegetables until they are covered in liquid and can be completely submerged. Add the remaining cider vinegar.
- Weight the veg beneath the surface of the liquid. I typically place a large sheet of plastic wrap over the surface of the liquid, then use an overturned plate on top of the plastic wrap and veg, with a large jar full of water on top of the plate. Then, I may wrap the top in plastic wrap again if I want it to be even more secure.
- Leave to ferment at room temperature for about 7 days. Begin tasting on the 5th day to determine if the vegetables are tasty, sour, and still a bit crunchy.
- When they’ve become pleasantly sharp and sour, Remove the veg into jars for storage in the refrigerator. Alternatively, move into jars with 2 piece lids, leaving 1/2″ headspace, and waterbath process for 20 minutes.
- Enjoy as an appetizer or quick snack, as a pizza topping, mixed with salads, or tossed with pasta and a pesto based sauce!