It’s no wonder so many good restaurants are making and serving pickles, preserves and chutneys these days – they brighten up the flavour of just about any dish and often add a nice pop of colour and texture on the plate. I have frequently joked that when I was growing up, pickles were a food group for me so when I recently saw a recipe from the U.S. Apple Association for pickled apples, I knew I had to start playing around. I’ve made a number of adaptations to suit my tastes; you could easily add more or different seasonings if you want a zippier pickle. These pickled apple slices are lovely as a condiment for grilled cheese sandwiches, tossed in a salad, or delicious as a snack with cheese. I expect I will find all sorts of other ways to enjoy them….as soon as I make another batch.
- 2 cups cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup white sugar
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 3 whole star anise
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 large or two small shallots
- 1/2 jalapeño pepper
- 1 rib celery
- 3 large sweet apples (I used Gala)
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary (each about 3”/7.5 cm in length)
- Wash and dry three 16 ounce (500 mL) canning jars and lids. Set aside.
- In small non-reactive pot, stir together vinegar, water sugar and salt. Add cinnamon sticks and star anise. Warm over medium heat until sugar and salt dissolve, stirring occasionally. Once sugar and salt have dissolved, remove and reserve the cinnamon sticks and star anise and transfer the mixture to a pitcher or measuring cup and put in the refrigerator to cool.
- While brine is cooling, slice shallots and jalapeño as thinly as possible. The easiest way to slice a hot pepper is to take the sides off and then slice them. This leaves the core and seeds intact, making them easier to discard. Once sliced, set aside.
- Wash celery stalk and slice thinly on the diagonal.
- Wash apples but do not peel. Core and slice thinly. The easiest way to do this is to cut the apple off the core in four pieces which can then be sliced easily.
- Once you’ve prepared the fruit and vegetables, start filling the canning jars. I like to do this in layers. Start with the cinnamon and star anise, then add a little bit of the shallot and jalapeno, followed by celery and apples. Try to divide the mixture as evenly as possible among the three jars. When the jars are half full, tuck the rosemary sprig down one side (it looks pretty to have it visible). Keep adding shallots, jalapenos, apples and celery until all three jars are packed as tightly as possible. Depending upon the size of your apples, all the slices may not fit. Snack time!
- Once the jars are packed, carefully pour the cooled brine (it should be lukewarm) into the jars. If you don’t have quite enough brine to fill them completely, just mix two parts cider vinegar to one part water (i.e., 2 tablespoons vinegar + 1 tablespoon water) to top up the jars.
- Because these pickles are not being processed in a hot water bath, they must be stored in the refrigerator. Let stand for at least a day before eating. They are best consumed within a month of making.
Makes three 16 ounce (500 mL) jars.