My friend A makes the most delicious marinated veggies I have ever had, EVER. She and I did an impromptu canned goods swap last fall and a few jars of the precious veggies were included; I swooned after one bite, finished the jar with a fork standing over my kitchen sink, and hid the second jar from my husband. Holy cow. I eventually did share the second jar with him, and though his response wasn’t quite as Gollum-esque as mine, he was definitely a fan. I decided to add them to this summer’s to-make list. Thankfully, A was happy to share the recipe with me; it’s one her mom has been making for a while, definitely a keeper!
To be honest, I have never canned anything with an oil-based marinade before and was confused why I’ve always heard not to do so. Clearly, A and her mom have been canning these veggies successfully for years. I did some research on a few of my favorite canning websites and looked through The Joy of Pickling for similar recipes. There are a ton of them, covering so many different kinds and combinations of vegetables. The only thing I will caution is that you must stick to the ratios of oil to vinegar, and you must use vinegar with at least 5% acidity. The brand of red wine vinegar I used is an organic one with 6% acidity. In addition, you need to be extra, super-duper, overly cautious about cleaning the oil and spice flecks from the rims of your jars. A tiny drop of oil on the rim is enough to prevent the jar from sealing and you don’t want that.
Now that all that business is out of the way, let’s talk about how wonderfully versatile these pickles are! You can use a combination of veggies, whatever you have on hand, whatever’s in season. I chose to mix red onion, zucchini and cherry tomatoes from my friend C’s garden with green beans, garlic cloves and fresh corn. I love cauliflower in these, and was disappointed that I forgot to put in the carrots and kalamata olives I like so much in A’s version. Don’t be frustrated with me for leaving out specific amounts of ingredients to use– I think it depends on your mix and the size of your cut veggies. My advice for you, if you really want to know how much to chop and blanch, is to use an empty jar (the size you’ll be canning with) as a measuring cup to see if you’re in the right ballpark. I hope that makes sense. Any leftover veggies can be tossed into your next casserole, soup, salad, etc.
Finally, though I definitely followed A’s recipe very closely, I made a few tiny changes in the seasonings based on what I had in the house. I don’t see why you couldn’t put in some dried basil or thyme with the oregano (or replace it, partially or fully?), but please try to stay true to the proportions. If you have any concerns about canning this recipe, put your marinade and veggies in a big container in the fridge and snack from it happily for a few weeks. To me, this recipe is a celebration of gardens bursting at the seams at this time of the year with variety and bounty. Please comment on the combination of ingredients you put together, and enjoy!
Marinated Veggies (makes 5-8 half-pints*)
- Mixed veggies of your choice: for this batch, I used 1 medium zucchini, about 20 cherry tomatoes, 1/2 a medium red onion, 4 large garlic cloves, 1 ear of corn and about 20 small-ish green beans
- 1 1/2 c. red wine vinegar (5% acidity or higher)
- 1 c. oil (I used grapeseed)
- 3/4 c. white sugar
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/8 – 1/4 tsp. black pepper, preferably freshly-ground
- 1 T. dried oregano
Prepare your water bath and sterilize lids and jars; have extra jars handy and ready in case you need them.
Put all the ingredients other than the veggies into a small non-reactive saucepan and heat slowly over medium to medium-high heat. This is your marinade; you’ll want to first dissolve the salt and sugar completely and then bring to a boil. Be careful with boiling oil! Don’t keep the heat on so high that it splatters everywhere. While the marinade heats, prepare your vegetables by washing, peeling (if necessary) and cutting them into bite-sized pieces. Working in small batches, blanch them in a pot of boiling water just for a minute or two, five minutes at the absolute most (I want mine slightly crunchy, and remember that they still have the water bath to go through), and remove to a clean bowl; all veggies can go into the same bowl.
When your jars are hot and sterilized, pack the veggies tightly into the jars, leaving a generous 3/4″ of headspace, and ladle boiling-hot marinade over the top; for best results, use a funnel to minimize messy splashing. Make sure to swirl your ladle around to mix the marinade every time so you’ll get an equal proportion of oil, vinegar and seasonings in each jar. Use a chopstick or knife to release any air bubbles and leave 1/2″ headspace in each jar. Wipe the rims very carefully with a clean cloth and then wipe them again to be safe. Affix hot flat lids and rings and water bath process for 10 mins.; remove jars to a clean, towel-lined bench and leave alone for 24 hours. Check carefully for seals and refrigerate (or open and eat?) any unsealed jars. Keep properly-sealed jars in a cool, dry space for up to one year.
*The range is due to a few factors. As I mentioned before, the type of veggies you use and the size you cut them will determine how many jars are needed. Also, I had a fair amount of marinade left over and could have filled more jars if I had more veggies. I saved the remaining brine and will make some fridge-pickled veggies this week.