In the world of culinary traditions, few things rival the timeless art of pickling. From ancient civilizations to modern kitchens, pickling has always been a key technique in preserving the freshness and flavor of seasonal vegetables. Today, I’m delving into the rich history of pickling and sharing a delightful recipe that has been passed down through generations.
Meet Jason Gonzales (a member of "The Watering Hole" my Facebook group!), who graciously shared his mother's cherished Armenian pickled vegetables recipe, known as tourshi, and allowed me to adapt it slightly from a chef's perspective.
The Preservation Power of Pickling
Before I dive into the delicious details of this recipe, let's explore the fascinating history of pickling and the role of salt, a critical component in this preservation technique.
Salt, the Time-Tested Preservative:
Salt has played an integral role in food preservation for thousands of years. Ancient civilizations, from the Egyptians to the Mesopotamians, discovered that salt had the extraordinary ability to enhance food's taste and prevent it from spoiling. This was achieved through a process known as osmosis, wherein salt drew out water from microorganisms, inhibiting their growth and spoilage of the food.
Salt in Fermentation:
Fermentation, a method used by various cultures to preserve foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles, also heavily relies on salt. Salt creates an environment where beneficial bacteria can flourish while hindering the growth of harmful pathogens. This results in the development of distinctive, complex flavors and textures in fermented foods.
Simple and Cost-Effective: Tourshi Pickled Vegetables
What's remarkable about tourshi pickled vegetables is their simplicity and cost-effectiveness. The recipe relies on basic ingredients, making it accessible to home cooks of all levels. Best of all, it's a refrigerator pickling method, which means no canning equipment or pantry space required.
Here's how it's done: Clean all your equipment and prep your vegetables meticulously. Ensure the vegetables are cut to a uniform size, as this helps them pickle evenly.
The Brine: A Key Player
The heart of this recipe is the brine. It's made from four essential ingredients: water, distilled white vinegar, salt, and sugar. Each ingredient plays a specific role in the preservation process:
- Water: Serves as the base and carrier for the other ingredients.
- Distilled White Vinegar: Preserves and adds the signature tanginess to the tourshi.
- Salt: Provides the preservation magic, keeping spoilage at bay.
- Sugar: Balances the acidity with a touch of sweetness, enhancing the overall flavor.
After prepping your cleaned veggies, you'll bring the brine to a boil. Then, pour this brine over the cleaned and prepared vegetables. The next crucial step is to exercise patience. These pickled veggies need to rest in the refrigerator for about a week before they're ready to be consumed. This waiting period allows the flavors to meld and intensify.
While Jason's recipe provides a fantastic base, you're free to choose your own selection of vegetables to pickle. However, keep in mind that if you opt for red onions, beets or red radishes, their pigments will turn the brine a vibrant pink. So, only use them if you don't mind your entire batch picking up a slight pink tint.
Crunchiest Pickles You'll Ever Have!
And now, the moment of anticipation! Once these pickled vegetables are fully pickled after a week, get ready for a taste sensation. They're not just pickles; they're the crunchiest pickles you'll ever have! This texture is one of the many delights of this recipe, making each bite a truly satisfying and flavorful experience.
The beauty of this pickling method is that it yields vegetables that can be stored in the fridge and enjoyed over time. When stored properly, they can last for about three months, providing you with the opportunity to savor the flavors of the season long after they've passed.
In conclusion, Jason Gonzales' torshi pickled vegetables offer a delightful connection to a cherished family recipe and the culinary traditions of Armenia. With just a few simple ingredients and a bit of patience, you can savor the flavors of the season year-round, all while embracing the magic of pickling that has enchanted generations. So, roll up your sleeves, prepare those vegetables, and embark on your own journey of preserving tradition, one jar of tourshi at a time.
So onto the adapted recipe! Here's how I made mine!
Jill's Tourshi-Style Mixed Pickles
(Makes 3 quarts)
- 4 cups distilled white vinegar
- 3 cups water
- 1/3 cup salt
- 1 t. granulated sugar
- 1 red bell pepper, large, cut into strips
- 1 yellow onion, medium, cut into strips
- 1 head garlic, trimmed, cloves sliced thinly
- 1/2 pound, green beans, trimmed on top and bottom
- 1 small head cauliflower, trimmed, cut into small florets
- 3 carrots, cleaned, cut into rounds
- 3 celery stalks, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 3 quart-size (32 ounce) mason jars, wide-mouth with lids
In a medium size saucepan, combine the water, vinegar, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil. While the brine is heating, load the quart size mason jars with the cleaned/prepared vegetables. Once the brine is ready, carefully pour over the vegetables and allow to come to room temperature. DO NOT put the lids on immediately. Let the vegetables come to room temperature for a while. You can see I poured the brine over the vegetables in a large bowl. Once that was cool, I then loaded them into my mason jars. You can do either method! I just liked the idea of them bathing together and then would evenly distribute the mixture later into the jars.
Next, once fully cool, attach the lids and place the jars in the refrigerator to finish the pickling process. They will be ready to enjoy in a week!
Here's a short list of vegetables that would be wonderful to pickle with this method!Cucumbers, Carrots, Beets, Red Onions, Cauliflower, Green Beans, Bell Peppers, Radishes, Asparagus, Jalapeño Peppers, Celery, Zucchini, Garlic Cloves, Turnips, Brussels Sprouts and Okra.