One Jar Closer

Recipe 7: Pickled Red Onions
Victories 7 and 7.1: How easy it is; getting one step closer to fulfilling my dream of mastering the art of pickling and canning and having my kitchen lined with beautiful jars of jams and pickles.

I’ve always loved the way food looks in glass jars and bottles. So naturally, pickling and canning appeal to me both culinarily and aesthetically. From whatever I had read or watched online about putting food in jars, however, it all seemed quite an undertaking requiring all these tools and at least a normal-size kitchen. I now know, of course, the difference between canning and pickling, and how the latter is actually much easier and not as anxiety-inducing (bacteria…botulism…death!).

So in a way, this recipe in Small Victories’ “A Few Drinks and Something to Keep on Hand” chapter was heaven sent—or Julia Turshen­–sent (same difference?)—to help me get started. I was amazed at how easy it was—just six ingredients, a bit of vegetable slicing, and maybe a minute of putting everything in a jar and shaking it to dissolve the sugar and salt. You have to wait only 20 minutes before you can start eating it, and you can keep it in the fridge for about two weeks. Next time, I might slice it thinner so that there are no parts sticking above the liquid. But everything turned out OK. I ate it with Turshen’s Potluck Quinoa, green salad, and on toast with goat cheese. I loved the sourness, the zing, and the crunch it added to these dishes. There are four delicious-sounding spin-offs to this recipe with other vegetables and spices, and I want to try them all.

What I didn’t expect to learn, however, is that the smell of the pickle can cling to the jar lid and is pretty much impossible to remove. I read discussions on online forums and was relieved to learn that this is a common problem. I tried rubbing lime rind on the lid and leaving lime juice in it for a few hours before washing it with dish soap, but that smell is stubborn! Others have suggested using fat, coffee, baking soda, leaving it out in the sun. The trick is patience, it seems, as it can take days or weeks. Of course, another solution is to just buy a new lid.

But if I’m going to get into food preserving, I might as well learn patience.