Hey there, Rachel here! Today, I'll be sharing a wonderful way to use those broccoli stems you might be otherwise throwing away. Here's to repurposing perfectly good produce!
Growing up, my mother would peel broccoli stems and slice them into a pot of steaming broccoli. We would eat them that way, but I never considered how they might be as pickles. It makes sense though, they are pretty bland but with a little bit of that bitter broccoli flavor; they are crunchy and have a good snap before they are cooked. A pretty good candidate for a pickle.
Kristl found a nice recipe or two on the internet, but when it was time to make the pickles, we couldn't find the recipe. I just decided to do it by intuition. That's basically always my style. Cooks often make discover the best recipes by making a few mistakes in the kitchen, if you ask me. If I have the basic idea down, I'm pretty capable of producing something like what I'm aiming at. That's how it went with these lovely pickles.
I started by peeling and cutting the broccoli stems into sticks. We had a bunch of leftover broccoli stems from an ambitious Easter dinner, so we had quite a pile (2ish cups). You could, however make this recipe to work with 3-4 stems. Proportionally, it should work out regardless. After peeling and cutting, I tossed the broccoli stems into a bowl and covered with water and white vinegar in a 3-1 ratio. I just poured in water to cover the stems and then glugged 2-3 glugs of vinegar in. I put in 3 Tbsp fresh dill and 1 Tbsp mustard seeds. I also added 2-3 tsp whey for flavor. This is totally optional if you don't have whey kicking around. You are also welcome to add additional pickling spices and garlic. We didn't really have a whole lot else just sitting around (I had used all the garlic in puttanesca sauce earlier that day.) Also, you can do these pickles with a bread and butter or sweet pickle flavor, but I don't mess with sweet pickles. All dill all the time over here.
I let this mixture sit for a couple hours, but only because I had to go somewhere and didn't have time to finish immediately. Regardless, I don't imagine letting it set hurt the flavor at all. When I was able to return to the project, I added two large pinches of grey sea salt and 3-4 turns of the pepper grinder. I stirred the salt in and tasted the mixture to see if it needed more salt.
I drained the liquid into a small saucepan and boiled to blend the flavors and get the brine ready for the fridge. Hot liquid helps set the pickles, at least that's the feeling I get. I'm not a pickling scientist. The boiling killed the whey, so my pickles won't ferment, but they will still have that slightly lemony flavor from the whey. I left the brine to boil for 10-15 minutes while I packed the broccoli sticks into jars. I also made sure to get a good amount of dill in each jar, because I love dill. I used pint size canning jars. Yum.
I took the brine off the heat and poured it over the pickles in the jars. I added an even amount to each jar and made sure that all the pickles were covered completely. Because they were only three small jars, I did not wait for them to be completely cool before popping them in the fridge. If you are putting a lot of warm items in the fridge, it can raise the temperature of your fridge to an unhealthy level, so you should let them cool. But three small jars seemed safe enough.
Most recipes said the pickles would be ready to eat in around 24 hours, but we waited for 48, just to be sure. (I think probably they would have been pretty tasty right away, but honestly, I like my pickles pretty tart.)
We had a jar with dinner tonight. Albeit, they were small jars, but yes, we did eat the whole jar. The pickles were crisp, and they taste just like dill pickles. And all those broccoli stems that might have been wasted otherwise have become delicious! Also, definitely an improvement on the steamed broccoli stems of my youth.