In Azerbaijan, canning is a big culinary tradition. Jars with homemade preserves, jams, pickles, relishes, and sauces can be found in almost every household. They are usually prepared in the summer, when fruits and vegetables are abundant, and consumed in the wintertime, when cool weather means appetites for things briny.
Pickles make a perfect accompaniment to meat dishes, to kebab of all sorts, and to what we call “dough-based dishes,” or pasta. Pickled stuffed eggplant and bell pepper, pickled garlic, green tomato, pickled sour plums, are among some of the most popular to enjoy with main dishes.
Today’s recipe is for mixed vegetables and herbs pickles, called heftebejer in Azerbaijani (word of Farsi origin and means 7 vegetables). Store the pickles in a glass jar. Scoop out as much as you want with your food and snap the seal back tightly to keep the pickles fresh until next time.
Now, roll up your sleeves and let’s can! And here’s my new, very encouraging abbreviation calling for immediatele action – YYCC which stands for YES YOU CAN CAN!
Pickled Mixed Vegetables with Herbs
Makes one 2-liter jar
Note: To save time, prepare the eggplant first. While its bitterness is being removed, chop other vegetables. Eggplant should be ready when you finish chopping the other ingredients.
1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 medium white cabbage, quartered and chopped
2 small green peppers, seeded and chopped
1 small yellow or red bell pepper (or a combination), seeded and chopped
1 green hot pepper, seeded and chopped (optional, for hot pickles)
4 medium green tomatoes, chopped (omit if not available)
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped (you can also shred the carrot, if you wish)
2 celery stalks with leaves (or without), chopped
1 bulb garlic, separated into cloves and chopped
1 cup chopped fresh mint
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
4 tablespoons coarse salt
About 1+1/2 cups white wine vinegar
Place the chopped eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon of salt. Put the colander in the sink. Place a weight, such a plate or lid, on top, to keep the eggplant lightly pressed down. Leave for about 20 minute, to draw out the bitter dark juices. Rinse the eggplant under cold running water. Drain and squeeze dry with your hands.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all the vegetables and herbs together. Add the salt and mix thoroughly with your hands. Set aside for 20 minutes to extract the juices and to allow the mixture to shrink.
Drain the liquid, then gently squeeze the mixture with your hands to remove excess juices and place the flesh in a glass jar, pressing on it with your hand to pack tightly. Pour in the vinegar to cover the vegetables.
Seal the jar and store in a cool place for at least 1 week before serving.