Pickled Brussels Sprouts
If you love an unusual savory pickle and Brussels Sprouts, this pickle is for you. They are not my favorite, but I make it for love of my husband and a couple of close friends who really appreciate it. It’s unusual enough to raise eyebrows on a charcuterie board, that’s for sure.
Before considering making this, a few cautions:
Like other great veggie pickles, grocery store Brussels won’t work. They are old, period. They are stripped of their outer leaves and are mushy. They might work fine for a roasted side dish or grated salad but not for a crunchy pickle. You need a trusted farmer who will cut stalks at dawn so that your Brussels are still…wait, is that breathing?…. as you are sterilizing jars and assembling pickling spices.
2.) Good god almighty, the stalks are filthy. Beyond horrifying. Prepare yourself. Worse than asparagus. Worse than leeks. I presume the reason that grocery store Brussels are stripped down to leafless, nutrition-stripped, pale green, naked little balls is because its the most efficient way to sell them relatively clean. When you get them on the stalk the luscious, nutritious green leaves are still attached, but you will need to clean them meticulously. This is a bit disgusting (I don’t want to hear ANY outrage from animal flesh eaters) but I’m going to show you:
I apologize for this graphic grossness and this may make me unpopular in food blogs but it’s truth. These are outer leaves of Brussels, magnified. Not just filth, but maggots and worse. Today I cut 20 stalks and every single Brussels Sprout was like this. So I cut them off the stalk. Soaked them. Trimmed them again. Soaked them again. And then I soaked them again. And before any single one passed muster the soaking bowl had to come up completely clean of any dirt or debris. It’s the only way. If you are not willing to do this, just don’t make this pickle.
Still with me?
OK. This recipe was inspired originally from “Food in Jars”, by Marisa McClellan. It’s a true small batch canning Bible. In her recipe she cuts the Brussels in half which I have never done. I like the effect of having them whole in the jar. She also cans in pints but I have never experienced difficulty upping the recipe to quarts.
Tip #3: Brussels Sprouts are porous, air-filled balls. It’s important to meticulously tap out air bubbles after ladling in your brine and before sealing. Take the time. Your seal will depend on it. Its frustrating to do all the work and then lose your seal. 🤯
I’m going to assume you know how to can. Get a water bath ready, sterilize jars, lids and tops in the dishwasher or on the stovetop.
I use small prep bowls to measure and line up the spices going into each jar.
Brine is white vinegar 1 to 1 with water, 1 and 1/2 cups pickling salt to 16 cups vinegar (1 gallon jug). Bring to a boil.
Each quart will have 4 cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 teaspoon of coriander seed, 1/2 teaspoon celery seed, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed.
Pack the spices and cleaned spouts into sterile jars. Cover with boiling brine. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, cover with lids and set into boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
These should cure for about a week before eating.