I've always loved spicy giardiniera pickles (especially the cauliflower!) and boy are they easy to make at home!
I canned a few jars of these the other day, and they're already really good eating. I used peppers, both sweet and spicy, carrots, sugar snap peas and cauliflower along with garlic and dill. All of the vegetables were fresh from the garden so these turned out to be the tastiest spicy italian pickles I've ever eaten...Yum!
These pickles surely won't last long in my house, though I can make another few jars in less than a half hour including raiding the garden, set up and clean up. If you're going to keep these in the fridge and eat them up in a matter of a few months, sealing your jars isn't necessary. But the canning process is pretty easy, so I'll include it in the recipe below.
Spicy Italian Mixed Veggie Pickles
Makes 2 quarts. Ready to eat in a few days or so.
8 cups of mixed veggies, sliced and chopped into pieces
4 Thai chili peppers, stem sliced off with two long slits cut into the whole pepper
6 cloves fresh garlic, slightly smashed
4 heads of dill (or 1 tablespoon dill seed)
1/4 cup canning salt
3 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Wash and thoroughly rinse 2 quart jars with lids and bands. If you will be canning and sealing jars, wash a heatproof jar funnel, tongs and a butter knife. Place these items on a sheet pan in a 350F oven for about 20 minutes, then cool slightly while you prepare your pickle brine. Leave the oven door open to cool the oven (I will explain...)
In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, bring salt, vinegar, water and brown sugar to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt. Reduce the heat to a simmer.
Into each jar, place 2 heads of dill, 3 cloves of garlic, mixed veggies and 2 chili peppers. Pour very hot brine into the jars of veggies, leaving 1/4 inch of space in the top of the jar. Poke your clean butter knife around in the jar to remove any air bubbles. Replace liquid, as needed. Place a lid and band on each jar. Tighten the lid only until it provides the least amount of resistance.
Place your jars in a cold oven and preheat the oven to 350F. As soon as the oven is preheated, turn off the heat. Do not open the door for ten hours (or overnight) while your jars slowly cool and seal themselves. Test jars by pressing on the center of the lid. If it makes a popping noise, it is not sealed. Store unsealed jars in the fridge. Sealed jars should have a silent sunken lid that you cannot lift from the jar top with your fingers. But, like I said, sealing isn't necessary unless you're keeping these at room temperature or giving them as a gift. Also, it should be noted that this method of sealing jars is for highly acidic foods only and isn't considered safe for sealing other items, such as apple pie filling or something. If in doubt, look up sealing in a water bath. That's super easy, too.
Enjoy your pickles! See you on the 27th with my Daring Bakers post!