I would be lying if I said everything from this recipe came from the garden, so I won’t say that. The radishes came from the farmers market, but the spring garlic did come from our garden. And that in it self is an interesting story. For about three years now I have been working on a garlic project. The varieties of garlic that I grow are all hardneck garlics, garlic that set a top “flower” or scape, genetic clones of the garlic clove planted in the ground. These “flowers” or scapes produce what are called bulbils, not truly a seed but miniature cloves of garlic that are smaller than a kernel of corn. These bulbils can be planted, and with care and a whole lot of patience, can be grown up into a full head of garlic over the course of two to three years. The garlic that I dug up today was most likely the variety Metachi, planted three years ago as small bulbils, and replanted each year at a little bit bigger size. The advantage of planting garlic this way is the amount of individual genetic material that can be planted. Traditionally, you break up a head of garlic and plant the individual cloves, anywhere from 4-10 cloves depending on the variety and quality of the garlic cloves. But with the bulbils, you can plant hundreds of garlic plants with very little work. You just need a little extra space, an accurate garden map, and lots of patience. We will discuss garlic more in-depth in a future post, but now it is time to get pickled!
Last year I pickled radishes for the first time and was completely surprised at how awesome they were. Radishes are one of those plants that I love growing in the garden, but have a hard time using and eating. Pickling the radishes really changes their character, and for my palate makes them much more appetizing. They are wonderful by themselves, as an addition to an appetizer tray with cold cuts and cheeses, or on a sandwich with lots of mustard. Give ’em a try, and now on to the pickling recipe. For these pickles I used a very basic brine and spice mix. Two parts water, one part vinegar, and salt portioned out to the amount of liquid. For example, if you are making 1 gallon of brine, you would use two and a half quarts of water, one and a half quarts vinegar, and one cup pickling salt. All variations can be based off this. For two quarts of finished pickles, I knew I would need about a quart and a half of brine. I used four cups of water, two cups of vinegar (white, cider, or red wine vinegar will work), and a quarter cup of pickling salt. Combine all this and bring to a light boil. While making your brine, have all your ingredients cleaned and ready to go and boiling water to sterilize your jars and lids. Using sterilized jars, pack them with the ingredients, in this case radishes and spring garlic, a quarter teaspoon each of mustard seed and Penzey’s pickling spice, and proceed to ladle in the brine. Put on the lids, but only hand tight, do not over do it. Place the filled jars back into the boiling water and give them a ten minute water bath. This will help to insure complete sterilization and a proper seal of the lids. After ten minutes in the water bath, pull the jars out and let them cool. If you want you can listen for the “pop” which means they are sealed, or you can use your finger and feel for a rigid lid, if it can not be easily pushed down, you have a proper seal. I would recommend letting these pickles sit for at least a month before eating, but two or three would be better. Feel free to change up the types of vinegar for different flavors, and add or subtract any spices, veggies, sugar, etc. to add your own touch to these pickles. Pickle on! Cheers!