Vanilla plays surprisingly well with savory flavors, so it seems downright unjust to use it only in cakes and cookies. In these pickles, vanilla gets a chance to play with its friend the chili pepper, and a bit of ginger adds to the fun. I used carrots, parsnips, and cucumbers (the cucumbers were the best, in my opinion), but I suspect onions would be tasty in this brine, or perhaps some crisp apples or turnips. —summersavory
about 2 pints
1 1/2 cups
Ancho chili (a whole dried poblano pepper)
fresh ginger, about a cubic inch
vanilla extract (good stuff, not imitation)
Combine the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar in a medium-sized pot. Peel and slice the ginger, and cut the ancho chili into strips as best you can. Discard the woody stem, but keep the seeds. Add the ginger, chili strips, and chili seeds to the pot.
Heat the mixture over a medium flame until it begins to simmer a bit. Turn off the heat and leave the brine to cool while you prepare the vegetables for their bath.
Peel the carrot and the parsnip, and cut them into strips or matchsticks or coins or whatever shape you see fit. Just keep in mind that thicker shapes will take more time to pickle all the way through; thin pieces with larger surface area will brine faster. Coins of parsnip and carrot worked well for me; larger matchsticks took a while. Slice the cucumber into thinnish slices.
Pile or loosely pack the vegetables into clean jars, or just put them in a bowl that fits the quantity you have. I used two pint-sized mason jars. Stir the vanilla into the warm-but-not-hot brine and pour it over the vegetables, making sure that they're fully submerged. You can strain out the ginger and chilis if you want, but I like to put a few pieces in each jar to let the flavors keep brewing. Cover the jars or the bowl with some kind of lid. Put your nascent pickles in the refrigerator to do their thing for at least 4 hours, or longer if you like; they'll keep for at least a week if not longer.