Unless you’ve hung out with me for quite some time, you probably don’t know the extent of my secret second love: the game of cribbage (or should I say that game your grandp(m)a, old man on the corner, or old man in the elderly home used to play). When asked the random question of “if you could be anywhere, doing anything, what would it entail?”, my answer typically has something to do with 1) pickles, 2) the outdoors, 3) beer, and 4) cribbage. Come to think of it, some part of that answer probably can be attributed to the fact that when I originally learned how to play, all 4 of those items were involved.
You may notice from the photo above that there is a bit too much headspace below the lid. As this is the second time that I’ve made pickled brussels sprouts, I was no stranger to loss of liquid during processing (technically called syphoning), an I’m beginning to think that it is unavoidable when canning brussels. Not to get all science’y on you, but a brief explanation of syphoning may help prevent any future unfortunate events. While there are many causes of liquid loss from jars (sudden pressure change, imperfect seal, food packed too tightly), the issue with brussels sprouts is the space between the folds. I’m sure you are familiar with the necessity of removing air bubbles before canning, but as you can imagine that becomes a bit of an issue when excess air is caught between each layer of brussels sprout. As your jars cool, you create a temperature, and thus pressure, difference between the inside of the jar and the cool air outside. By way of physics, we know that pressure naturally wants to move from areas of high to low pressure. Because the rings are still sealing there are tiny lips between the seal that allow exchange of gas between the two mediums… You are probably wondering if the jarred goods are safe to eat after siphonage. The answer is yes, while they appearance of your jarred good may be spoiled, the taste and safety are not.
I picked up two pints of these little, tiny, and oh so perfect brussels sprouts from Meadow Brook Farm at the winter farmer’s market a couple weeks back. All the pickling plans in the world couldn’t have stopped this veggie crazed scientist… So, it was back to the market last weekend for more supplies, but this time with some self control. I figured I would play around with basil pickled brussels sprouts as I had a couple handfuls of fresh basil in store as well as some freshly dried basil leaves from Stout Oak Farm. In hopes of a basil laden pickle, I loaded up on both ingredients and added garlic and a dried habanero pepper to boot. Enjoy!
- 2 pints small brussels sprouts
- 1/2 cup fresh basil (choppd)
- 4-6 garlic cloves (sliced)
- 1 dried habanero pepper
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 3 Tbsp sea or pickling salt
- 2 Tbsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp whole peppercorns
- Prepare brussels sprouts by cutting off their butts and gently cutting in quarters (leaving 1/8inch) of brussels intact (see photos).
- In a large bowl cover brussels sprouts with water. Stir in 2 Tbsp salt till dissolved. Set aside for 20 minutes. When time is up rinse and drain brussels sprouts.
- In a medium-sized, non-ionized pot add vinegars, water, 1 Tbsp salt, pepper, dried basil, 1/2 of the sliced garlic, and peppercorns. Over medium heat bring to just a boil then remove from heat.
- To each pint jar add 1/2 of the chopped basil, the remainder of the garlic slices, and brussels sprouts. Pour vinegar mixture (you may want to strain spices off) into jar leaving approximately 1/2 inch headspace.
- Wipe rims, apply lids and rings (finger tight), and process jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, and let jars sit in canning pot for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove jars, and let cool on a folded towel for 8-12 hours.
- Store jars in a cool dry place for at least 3 weeks before consuming. Shelf stable for up to 1 year.