It’s Quick Pickling and Preserving Week here on Betty Eatz! We are going to do some easy and quick pickling and jamming of summer vegetables and fruits. And I promise it’s not hard.
Today’s project: escabeche. It’s a cool and zingy side dish to any grilled meat or fish, a bright and crunchy topping on burgers and tacos, and a beautiful addition to charcuterie boards.
Drawing from Spanish-influenced global cuisines, escabeche can be meat, fish, or vegetables cooked in vinegar and spices. I’m doing a variety of vegetables that will be plunged in a hot vinegar bath.
This is different from canning.
Do you know someone who cans? My mother-in-law is a canning queen. She has pickled and preserved food for 50-plus years, and I am in awe.
Every year she puts up green beans, tomatoes, and veggies of all kinds that are grown on her Oregon property. Jams and preserves are also made from locally grown fruit and rhubarb from her garden. She has even tinned freshly caught fish!
To properly can something, there are a number of essential steps that must be done to ensure food safety and longevity. Canning jars and lids are sterilized, filled with food, and sealed. Then, filled jars go through a period of hot water immersion to vacuum seal them before storing them.
Food prepared this way lasts for a year or more if stored correctly. In years past, this was the only way anyone was going to have out-of-season tomatoes or peaches in the middle of winter. It was also a way to not let any fresh produce go to waste.
What I’m doing this week is pretty amateur, I’ll admit. No hot water baths here. But! The results are delicious and fun is had along the way.
Quick Pickling Escabeche
You don’t have to go through the canning process to quick pickle vegetables. All it requires is a squeaky clean jar, fresh veggies, and a piping hot vinegar-water combo. Plus, some spices, if you want.
Good candidates for quick pickling: bell peppers, carrots, celery, cucumbers, fennel, green beans, onions, radishes, and zucchini. Starchier vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli should be blanched for a few minutes before being added to the mason jar.
If you add red onions or beets they will eventually make everything pink once the pickling occurs. Everything. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but be aware.
Next, you will prepare a vinegar and water mixture and heat it to boiling. This is what you will pour over the veggies to quickly pickle them.
Homemade Pickling Spice
Here is where you can custom mix the spices you want in your quick pickling project. Some popular options include bay leaves, celery seeds, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel, star anise, whole black peppercorn, and whole cloves. Plus kosher salt and sugar.
Play around with the spice combination to find what you like. You can quick pickle on the spur of the moment by keeping a big batch of spice mix on hand that you have pre-mixed. You will need about 1 tablespoon of mixed spices per 2 cups of liquid.
For This Escabeche, Quick Means Quick
So, how fast is escabeche ready to eat? In 24 hours. Yes, it is ready to eat the next day.
Always keep quick pickled items in the refrigerator. Because it does not include any preservatives, escabeche needs to be eaten within 2 weeks.
- I like to fill clean jars with boiling water and let them stand for 10 minutes to ensure they are squeaky clean. Don't forget to place the lids and rings in a bowl and cover them with boiling water, too.
- White vinegar will give the cleanest looking results, but you can use any vinegar you'd like. I used a 50-50 combo of apple cider vinegar and white vinegar for this recipe.
- Use common sense. Check for mold in any jarred item before eating. Just like other disappointments in life, things sometimes go bad and should be thrown away.
6 to 8 cups of mixed vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces (cauliflower, carrots, celery, mini bell peppers, baby carrots)
1 jalapeno, cut in half
1 tsp olive oil
4 or 5 dried bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 star anise
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 garlic clove, cut in half
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
3 tsp kosher salt
3 tsp raw or Demerara sugar
- Divide and place the cut-up veggies and jalapeno halves in clean quart-size mason jars. If you are using cauliflower or broccoli, blanch them first in boiling salted water for 2 minutes and drain before adding to mason jars.
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, star anise, peppercorns, and garlic clove halves. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes or just until fragrant.
- Tip in the apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, and water. Bring the spice vinegar mixture to a boil, then add the salt and sugar. Stir to dissolve.
- Pour the hot liquid into the prepared jars. Use a slotted spoon to distribute the spices evenly between the jars. Ensure that the vegetables are completely submerged in the vinegar mixture, adding more liquid if necessary.
- Cover tightly with lids and screw top rings. Allow jars to cool slightly before storing them in the refrigerator.
- Escabeche is ready to eat the next day. Keep stored in the fridge and eat within 2 weeks.