Red Wine Vinegar Pickles with Star Anise and Bay Leaves
Red wine vinegar makes a really nice pickle: piquant and fruit-forward. But the star of this pickle is the star anise. Warm, aromatic spices bring an extra layer to the brine and can be really fun to riff on. (Allspice berries, whole cloves, and cinnamon sticks can all provide similar spiced warmth in their own distinct ways.) Bay leaves also give some herbal notes but were chosen here mostly because we always have them in our pantry. Fresh rosemary, thyme, or even dried juniper berries would be nice additions, if you have them on hand.
about 1 pound sliced veggies—enough to fill 1 or 2 (16-ounce) Mason jars
a few whole peeled cloves garlic, gently crushed
2 star anise pods
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1½ teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1½ teaspoons black peppercorns
1 cup water
½ cup distilled white vinegar
½ cup red wine vinegar
1. First, fill your Mason jars with the veggies, garlic cloves, star anise, and bay leaves. Leave a little room at the top so they can sit fully submerged in the brine. Depending on what you use and how you decide to slice it, you might need more or fewer jars. This method is very forgiving, so whatever you have should work fine.
2. Combine the salt, the sugar, and the rest of the spices with water in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Add the vinegars and turn off the heat. Carefully pour or ladle the brine over the prepped veggies. Let cool, uncovered, at room temperature. Once fully cooled, cover the jars with the lids and store in the fridge. The pickles should keep for a couple of weeks.
Originally featured in How to Make Quick-Pickled Anything—and What to Do with Your Leftover Brine