Saturday, August 2, 2014

Pickled Radish

This makes a delicious pickled radish, great for snacking on as well as for garnishing hamburgers and hot dogs and veggie burgers. I've served them with Vietnamese style vermicelli noodle salad and with homemade chicken pho. They also make great gifts, with their sparkly pink prettiness, to your fellow pickle-loving friends.
Crunchy, spicy pickled radish.
** UPDATE:** These look beautiful and hot pink when you make them, but fade to a dull pinkish brown after while. They haven't gone bad, and still taste great, but they don't look as pretty. Consider that factor when giving as gifts. **END UPDATE**

The recipe here is loosely based on several recipes, and I've preserved (heh heh) the proportions of vinegar, salt, and sugar, so this recipe should keep without spoiling when canned correctly. But, as always, can at your own risk. I have been canning/pickling for a few years now and I have the timing down so there is very little downtime while you wait, for example, for the jars to sterilize, but if you haven't canned much, it takes a few tries to get a sense of the flow of things and which step B should be happening while step A is concurrently happening. I'll try to do my best to walk you through the timing.
Sterilizing jars in the oven.
For the spice in this sweet/spicy pickle, I use tiny, dark "Black Pearl" peppers from a potted plant we keep on our windowsill or in the greenhouse. It's sold at nurseries as an ornamental pepper, but it is quite edible and the peppers are extremely hot. You can also use dried piquin chiles or habanero or any other small quantity of a very hot pepper. If using a more mild pepper, use more!

"Black Pearl" ornamental pepper.
Fresh and dried (i.e., left on the plant too long) black pearl peppers.
Soaking the radishes to clean them in the salt bath.

This quantity of radishes (24) makes 4 to 5 half-pints, depending on their exact size. You can can (heh heh) even more at a time if you have enough radish. I always make sure the brine recipe is MORE than enough, because it sucks to run out of brine midway through canning. I also prepare more jars than I think I will need just in case the vegetables fill more volume than expected.

Salt bath:
1/4 cup salt
2 1/2 cups water

4 cup 5% white vinegar
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
16 tsp salt

Other ingredients:
24 radishes
8 cloves garlic
4 tsp whole black peppercorns
4 tsp mustard seed
8-12 small chiles (I used "black pearl" ornamental chiles, see note above for more info)

Clean the radishes well, and soak (whole) in the salt bath for 4 hours.

About a half hour before that time is up, prepare your setup for sterilizing jars. I sterilize jars in the oven at 220 F for at least 25 minutes. Place the jars in the oven and then set the temperature; if you put the cold jars straight in a hot oven, they could crack. Likewise, don't set the hot jars on a very cold surface - I put a towel down for insulation. Use jar-grabbers when handling hot jars.

At this time, place your large pot(s) on the stove full of water (for processing the jars later) and set on high temperature to bring the water to a boil.

Cut the radishes into thin slices (I use a mandoline for this) and rinse and drain.

Sterilize the jar lids and bands in a small pot of boiling water for about 10 minutes, but not much more or you can damage the rubber seal of the lid. I also keep a metal ladle in this pot of hot water for portioning out the brine.

The brine will boil quickly because of vinegar's lower boiling temperature, so start the brine last. Bring the vinegar, sugar, water, and salt to a boil and cook until sugar dissolves.

Once the brine is ready, if the full 25 minutes have passed to sterilize the jars and the processing baths are boiling, pack the jars. For each jar, toss in the bottom: 2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp peppercorns, 1 tsp mustard seed, and 2-3 chiles, depending on desired spiciness. Pack the sliced radish into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Ladle brine over radish, again, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Use a magnetic grabber to pull out lids and bands from their boiling water bath, put on the lids, and finger-tighten the bands gently on each jar.

Lower the temperature on your boiling water to calm the bubbling while you lower in the jars. (Hint: you'll have less chance of jar breakage if you buy a dedicated canning rack for your pot.) Use a jar-grabber to gently lower the jars into the processing bath. I live at high altitude, and I process jars for 35 minutes for all my pickles. At lower altitude, you'll need less time. This USDA website has some processing times listed for various pickles, but unfortunately not radish.

After the processing is complete, lift jars out of the bath with jar-grabbers and place on a towel to rest. Do not disturb the jars for 24 hours. At that time, check to see that the jar sealed properly (lid does not rebound or "pop" when pressed) and store in a cool, dark place. Eat within a year (so they always say).
Jars processing on the stove.