Salted cauliflower retains the flavor, texture, and nutrition of the fresh vegetable. Of course it becomes very salty. However, many people familiar with salted vegetables consider them to be superior to either canned or frozen vegetables.
Makes 2-3 cups
3 to 4 cups (1 pound) cauliflower florets (about 1 medium head)
1/3 cup (3.2 ounces) pickling salt (do not use table, sea, or iodized salt)
- Use only young, tender, very fresh cauliflower. Trim leaves, core, cut into 1-inch or smaller florets, rinse thoroughly in cold water, and drain well. Weigh or measure the cauliflower to ensure you have the correct ratio of vegetables and salt.
- Steam blanch the cauliflower over boiling water for 2 minutes, or until the florets are barely tender and slightly firm when pierced with a small knife. Chill in ice water and drain thoroughly.
- In a large bowl, toss together the cauliflower and pickling salt until evenly mixed. Pack the vegetables and salt into a sterilized 1-quart canning jar, leaving at least 1 inch headspace. If juices do not cover cauliflower, prepare a very strong brine using 1 cup pickling salt per quart of boiling water. Cool and pour enough brine over cauliflower to cover completely.
- Fill a plastic bag with very strong brine and place over the cauliflower to hold it under the brine and to seal the jar completely. Place the jar on a tray to catch any spill over during curing. Store container at 64°F to 72°F and allow to cure for 2 to 4 weeks.
- Remove the brine-filled bag, cover the jar, and store salted cauliflower in the refrigerator. Check the container once a week for a white scum floating on the surface of the brine. Remove it immediately, if it appears–it isn’t harmful but can create off-flavors if not removed. Keep the vegetables completely submerged in brine at all times during storage. Mold, soft vegetables, or rotten odors indicate spoilage; discard these vegetables without tasting. Under ideal conditions, salted vegetables may be stored in the refrigerator up to 6 months.
Before using salted cauliflower, you may wish to remove excess salt. Soak vegetables in three or four times their volume of cold water for 2 hours, or until saltiness is reduced to your taste (up to 8 hours). Change the water several times to speed up the de-salting process. To use salted vegetables raw in salads, simply rinse and use. You can prepare and serve salted cauliflower in the same ways you would as if it were fresh, as a hot vegetable side dish with butter or cheese sauce. Here are a couple of my favorite ways to serve cauliflower:
- Cauliflower salad with bacon and sun-dried tomato salad dressing
- Cauliflower à la polonaise (“Polish style”)
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For more information about food preservation methods and recipes, see the book The Home Preserving Bible by Carole Cancler, available from booksellers everywhere.