10 Pickled Gifts You Can Make Today

Posted by on May 30, 2012

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Ok, so pickles aren’t exactly a typical gift, but they are the kind of thoughtful, homemade gesture that can start a whole new tradition. And while fresh pickles will be a welcome addition to many households, there are a whole host of other things you can pickle, place in a pretty jar, tie with a ribbon and give as a gift to your mom, dad, boyfriend, coworker or mailman. 

These are 10 great ideas for pickled presents — from peppers to apples to eggs — from The Joy of Pickling: 250 Flavor-Packed Recipes for Vegetables and More from Garden or Market by Linda Ziedrich. Dates are given for refrigeration storing after your pickled delights are ready. If you want to store your pickles out of the refrigerator for long-term use, you can follow standard canning practices for processing.

canning pickled gift
Classic Half Sours (adapted from The Joy of Pickling)
Difficulty Level: Easy 

You buy them in the supermarket and at your local deli — and now you can make them in your own kitchen. Half sour pickles were described in a 1984 book The Dill Crock as “little cucumbers who [have] died and gone to heaven.” These pickles start with what is known as “pickling cucumbers” — which are shorter and bumpier than a standard cuke. They’re often sold as “Kirby” or "liberty” cucumbers. Another key ingredient is “pickling salt,” which is a very fine-grained salt that is generally sold in supermarkets. Don’t substitute table salt, but in a pinch you can use an equal amount of kosher salt. 

What you’ll need: 

Quart-sized glass jar 
1⁄4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, crushed 
1⁄4 teaspoon whole coriander seeds, crushed 
1 Mediterranean bay leaf 
1 garlic clove, chopped 
1 quart (about 1 pound) 3- to 5-inch pickling cucumbers, blossom ends removed 
1 dill head 
1 small fresh hot pepper, slit lengthwise 
11⁄2 tablespoons pickling salt 
3 cups water 

Place the peppercorns, coriander, bay and garlic into a clean quart jar. Pack the jar with the cucumbers, dill head and hot pepper. 

Dissolve the salt in the water, and pour over the cucumbers, leaving about 1 ½ inches of space. It’s key to keep your pickles submerged the entire time they’re pickling, so fill a ziptop bag with extra brine and place on top to keep everything weighed down. Seal the jar and leave at room temperature for 3 days. Check the jar once a day to see if any scum has formed — and scrape it off it it has. 

You should see bubbles forming after about 3 days. After a week at room temperature, move your pickles to the refrigerator for another 3 days, then enjoy! Store your pickles in the fridge for up to 3 weeks — if they last that long.

pickled cherry tomato gift
Pickled Cherry Tomatoes  (adapted from Food.com)
Difficulty Level: Easy 

A big jar of pickled cherry tomatoes, a large red bow on top — what could be a better gift for the favored foodie in your life? Brine your tomatoes just before they ripen (partially red), for an end product that is perfect parts sweet, bitter and crisp. Pickled tomatoes are wonderful mixed into salads, and sliced on sandwiches, paninis and even your favorite pizza. This Russian recipe results in a tasty delicacy that will be welcome under any Christmas tree. 

What you’ll need: 

1 3⁄4 pounds half-ripe cherry tomatoes 
About 6 dill heads 
1⁄4 cup coarsely grated or chopped horseradish 
4 or 5 garlic cloves, halved 
Leafy tops of 2 celery stalks 
3 parsley sprigs 
3 tarragon sprigs 
1⁄2 fresh hot pepper, seeded 
Several dill sprigs 
2 tablespoons pickling salt 
1 quart water 

Mix the tomatoes, dill heads, horseradish, garlic, celery, parsley, tarragon, hot pepper and dill together. Place everything in a 2-quart jar. Dissolve the salt in the water and pour enough in to cover the tomatoes. Top with a brine filled zip top bag to keep all the tomatoes submerged. Let the jar stand at room temperature for a week. Remove the bag, and store in the refrigerator for another week. Then gift them to a friend, or eat them all yourself! Keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
pickled apples gift
Pickled Apples (adapted from allrecipes.com)
Difficulty Level: Easy 

This is one pickled dish that is perfect for the sweet-tooth on your shopping list. The ubiquitous fall fruit keep their crisp texture and develop a flavor similar to sparkling wine, according to Ziedrich. Generally green or yellow apples are used in pickling. This recipe calls for sour cherry leaves, which aren’t the easiest thing to find. Try a large farmers market if there’s one near you, or you can also try and look for fresh grape leaves, or fresh horseradish leaves. If these are unavailable, you can leave them out — they’re not crucial. 

What you’ll need:  

3 quarts water 
1⁄4 cup honey 
8 teaspoons pickling salt 
2 to 3 handfuls sour cherry leaves 
4 to 6 tarragon sprigs 
3 pounds apples 

Stir the water, honey and salt together in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Let cool. Layer the apples (whole, or sliced if you’d like) with the tarragon and cherry leaves in a gallon-sized jar. Top with leaves and pour the brine over the top. Top with a brine-filled plastic bag to keep the apple submerged. Store at room temperature for a week. Remove the bag, and store in the refrigerator for 30 days. Eat within 1 to 2 weeks.
pickled lemons
Pickled Lemons (adapted from The Joy of Pickling)   
Difficulty Level: Easy 

Pickled or preserved lemons are a common ingredient in many Russian and Moroccan dishes, and are a great way to top a variety of chicken, fish or beef dishes. Pickling gives lemons a more mild flavor, with a mix of sour, salty and sweet elements that transform the lowly lemon into a whole new ingredient. These would make a wonderful gift with an attached card with recipe suggestions — just make sure you get a dinner invite! 

What you need: 

Whole lemons, rinsed and dried 
Saltwater — 1 tbsp pickling salt to every cup of water

Put the lemons in a jar and cover with brine. Store in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks before eating. They can keep for up to a year in the fridge when fully submerged. Serve thinly sliced as a topping and garnish.
pickled peppers
Pickled Peppers  (adapted from Food.com)
Difficulty Level: Easy  

This is one jar you will want to display all year round in your kitchen — but you’d be missing out by not opening it up! Used mixed color peppers for the most visual appeal — or pick your favorite variety for the best flavor.

What you need: 

2 pounds bell or pimiento peppers, preferably of mixed colors, cut into strips. 
1 large celery stalk with leaves, chopped 
3 garlic cloves, chopped 
1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds 
1 bay leaf 
3 cups water 
1 ½ cups white wine vinegar 
2 ½ tablespoons pickling salt 

In a large bowl toss the peppers, celery and garlic together. Pack them into a 2-quart jar with the seeds and bay leaf. Mix together the water, vinegar and salt, and pour over the peppers. Refrigerate for 8 days before eating. Store in the fridge for up to 8 weeks.
pickled onions
Pickled Onions (adapted from allrecipes.com)
Difficulty Level: Easy 

Pickled onions are classic English pub food — eaten with fish and chips of course. They can also be enjoyed in sandwiches, or with other fish dishes. They even appear in a classic martini — the Gibson! Don’t you want to be the one who makes their own pickled onion martini garnishes? 

What you’ll need: 

½ cup pickling salt 
8 cups water 
1 ½ pounds very small onions or shallots, unpeeled 
2 tablespoons light brown sugar 
2 cups malt vinegar [sub white wine vinegar if unavailable] 
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns 
¼ teaspoon whole allspice berries 
¼ teaspoon hot pepper flakes 
1 Mediterranean bay leaf, crumbled 

Mix ¼ cup of the salt and 4 cups of water together in a bowl. Add the onions, and weigh them down (with a plate or something similar) so they are completely submerged. Let sit at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours. 

Drain the onions and peel them. Make a brine with the remaining ¼ cup of salt and 4 cups of water and submerge the onions again. Let sit at room temperature another 2 days. Bring the sugar and vinegar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Let cool. 

Drain and rinse the onions, and layer them with the peppercorns, allspice, hot pepper flakes and bay leaf in a quart sized jar. Pour the cooled vinegar mixture on top. Refrigerate the jar for at least 1 month before eating. Keeps for 6 months.
pickled ginger mushrooms
Pickled Ginger Mushrooms (adapted from Foodista.com)  
Difficulty Level: Easy 

Marinated and pickled mushrooms are a classic appetizer in many cuisines. They’re also great folded into other dishes like omelets, lasagnas and salads. You can use a variety of mushrooms (fresh, not dried), but button mushrooms are the best because of their firmness. Plus, they’re just so darn adorable. 

What you’ll need: 

1 pound small button mushrooms 
2 teaspoons pickling salt 
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar 
2⁄3 cup red wine 
1⁄2 teaspoon sugar 
4 whole cloves 
8 whole black peppercorns 

One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, 1 thinly sliced bay leaf. Toss the mushrooms and salt together. Place in a dish and cover with plastic wrap, let sit for 8 to 12 hours at room temperature. Put the mushrooms and their juice into a pan, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until all the juice has evaporated. Add the red wine vinegar, red wine, sugar, cloves, peppercorns, ginger and bay leaf, and simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool. 

Pack the mushrooms into a 2 or 3 cups jar and pour the liquid over them. Cap the jar and store in the fridge for 2 days before eating. Keeps in the fridge for 2 months.
pickled artichokes
Pickled Artichoke Hearts (adapted from The Joy of Pickling)
Difficulty Level: Easy 

These pickled artichoke hearts are a wonderful, flavorful snack anytime. They will also work wonderfully mixed into a pasta dish, or stir fry. 

What you’ll need: 

1 pint canned artichoke hearts [or boil frozen for 5 minutes] 
1⁄3 cup white wine vinegar 
1⁄3 cup water 
6 whole black peppercorns, crushed 
1 garlic clove, sliced 
1 thyme sprig 
1 marjoram or oregano sprig 
1 teaspoon pickling salt 
1 pinch hot pepper flakes 
1⁄3 cup olive oil 

Bring the white wine vinegar, water, peppercorns, garlic, thyme, marjoram or oregano, salt and hot pepper flakes to a boil. Pack the artichoke hearts into a pint jar and pour the liquid on top, then add the olive oil. 

Store capped in the fridge for a week before eating, flipping upside down occasionally to mix herbs. Keeps in the refrigerator for several weeks.
chinese pickled garlic
Chinese Pickled Garlic (adapted from Food.com
Difficulty Level: Easy

Pickling garlic gives it a wonderful hot and crunchy characteristic. It works great in dressings and sauces, as well as a condiment on hot dogs, hamburgers, and just about anything else you can think of. Try it in pasta and sandwiches too — you’ll have your guests wondering what your secret ingredient is! 

What you’ll need:
1 cup garlic cloves 
1⁄2 cup rice vinegar, white wine vinegar, or distilled white vinegar 
1⁄2 teaspoon sugar 
1⁄2 teaspoon pickling salt 

Mix the vinegar, sugar and salt together. Place the garlic in a half-pint jar and pour the liquid on top. Store in the fridge for a month before using. Keeps up to a year in the fridge.
pickled eggs
Golden Pickled Eggs (adapted from allrecipes.com
Difficulty Level: Easy 

These “golden” eggs get their color from turmeric, and their flavor from all the great spices in this recipe. They’re standard bar food in some parts of the world, and though your friends might balk at trying one of these odd delights, they’ll be won over quickly by this fun and different snack! You can also serve them in a salad or sandwich, or alongside a platter of cold meats. 

What you’ll need: 

A dozen hard boiled eggs, peeled 
1 tablespoon pickling salt 
1 ½ cups cider vinegar 
½ cup water 
1 ½ teaspoons sugar 
One 1-inch cinnamon stick 
1 teaspoon crushed white peppercorns 
½ teaspoon ground allspice 
½ teaspoon ground turmeric 
¼ teaspoon whole celery seeds 
2 shallots, thinly sliced 

Use a fork to pierce each egg through to the yolk about 6 times. Combine the salt, vinegar, water, sugar, cinnamon, peppercorns, allspice, turmeric, celery seeds and shallots in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes. Let cool. 

Place the eggs into a quart jar, and pour the liquid on top. Cap and refrigerate for at least a week. 

Store for several weeks in the fridge.
Excerpted from The Joy of Pickling: 250 Flavor-Packed Recipes for Vegetables and More from Garden or Market by Linda Ziedrich, published by Harvard Common Press.

Photo credits, from top: Flickr.com/whitneyinchicago, Dmitriy Pechenkin / Dreamstime.com, Buriy / Dreamstime.com, Alanpoulson / Dreamstime.com,  Pawel Strykowski / Dreamstime.com,  Darryl Brooks / Dreamstime.com, Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime.com, istockphoto, thinkstockphotos.com, istockphoto, thinkstockphotos.com, Ramvseb1 / Dreamstime.com and Monkey Business Images / Dreamstime.com

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