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I love all kinds of pickles. But nowadays, when we buy pickles or fermented vegetables on the market, we are not sure if they added preservatives or chemicals to speed up the process or boost up flavors. The truth is, if you do it right with a little know-how and patience, home made pickles are fun and flavorful!
Growing up, my mom always had a Szechuan Style Pickling Jar in the kitchen. Different from some other kind of pickling/fermenting, this pickling juice can last you a life time. The more “vintage” it is, the more flavorful. You can even use this “Mother Pickling Juice” to breed many many many new jars, if you want. Since I moved to Seattle, I needed to re-create that “Home” feeling in this new country. First thing I did was to start a Szechuan pickling jar. Just to see this jar in the kitchen, brings me back to my childhood, and reminds me that I’m carrying love and culture from my home town - wherever I go, that’s where HOME is!
Now, all you’ll need is some clean sea salt*, cooled, boiled water, spices of your choice, and some high alcohol percentage white liquor, and you’re in business. NO, you DON’T need vinegar! We are going to let the fermentation process create that tasty tangy pickle juice for you!
What you need:
1. Wide opening jar
2. Cooled boiled water ⅔ of the jar capacity
3. Clean sea salt* : 6% of water
4. Hard white liquor : 1-2 tbsp
5. Veggies that you want to pickle : Taiwanese cabbage, carrots, chili pepper, Chinese long beans, Turnip skin, cucumber...etc.
6. Spices : ginger, garlic, pepper corn, szechuan pepper corn...etc.
*Clean Sea Salt is salt from the box in the pantry, that's not used everyday and left by your stove. The salt that you leave on the countertop (by the stove) sometimes has some degree of grease/oil contamination. And oil will fail your fermentation process.
What to do to start a pickling jar:
1. Clean your jar: Wash your jar really well with soap and water, because any oil or grease will fail your fermenting process. Then spray rubbing alcohol in it to sanitize the jar before you start pickling.
2. Lightly wash your veggies to clean away all the dirt and dust, then put veggies in to a colander, let them dry completely before you put them into the pickling jar.
3. Mix and dissolve sea salt into cooled boiled water.
4. Add in the white hard liquor for extra flavor and fragrant, then fill the jar half full with salted water.
5. Add in all the veggies and spices, make sure you stuff them tight in the jar.
6. Fill the jar with more salted water until about 2-3 cm away from the opening.
7. Put 2 thin plastic bags on top of the opening, then screw the lid on. This way, the lid will be the perfect tightness for air (created from fermentaion) to come out.
8. Keep the jar out in room temp. (25-30C) Pickles will be ready in 7-10 days.
What to do after it's done:
1. You can keep the pickles in longer until you want to eat it. Just know that it will get more sour over time.
2. Take the pickles out if you don't want them to get more sour, and keep them in the fridge to enjoy within 1 week.
3. You can eat the pickles as it is, or you can stir fry into different dishes. (Pictures below. We will have more FB LIVE cooking to show you how we eat them, make sure to follow us on FB to tune in!)
3. You can use the same juice in the jar to pickle more.
Stir Fry pickled long beans with ground pork
Stir fry pickled Taiwanese cabbage with Wagyu short rib
What to do to keep pickling rounds after rounds:
1. Take out all veggies, spices in the jar with a clean utensil.
2. Wash your veggies and dry them as the first time you pickle.
3. Weigh your veggies, and prepare salt that's 3%-5% of the veggie weight.
4. Add a tbsp of white hard liquor and salt, and then fill your jar with boiled cooled water if needed.
5. You can continue this process and your pickling juice will get more and more flavorful over time!
6. You can also use some of your "mother juice" from the original pickling jar as a fast starter for more pickling jars.