How to store fresh produce has been a problem since ancient times when there were neither today’s product distribution networks nor refrigeration appliances.
Our ancestors worked hard to find suitable preservation methods and the giardiniera in vinegard is one of them. The ripest and tastiest vegetables were harvested to preserve them in vinegar or oil.
Pickling in vinegar is an ancient practice that developed in parallel with the birth of vinegar itself (just think, as early as 4000 BC it was prepared by the Babylonians!) and at that time it was used as a preservative, condiment or disinfectant. Vinegar also played a fundamental role in ancient Rome where it was customary to leave each diner a bowl of vinegar to soak bread or rinse their hands.
It is a preserve that was born as a poor dish, prepared in periods of the year when there were many vegetables as towards the end of summer.
Today, giardiniera is a typical Piedmontese appetizer, a peasant recipe with a strong taste and, like all the recipes handed down from generation to generation, each family has its own version.
Here we propose that of brianorenata made with cauliflower florets, carrots, spring onions and zucchini. If you wish you can add celery, peppers and artichokes, also depending on the period.
To keep intact the flavors, aromas and freshness of vegetables, always prefer seasonal products, rich in properties and nutritional elements.
Put 2 500 ml glass jars into a large pot or steam oven to sterilize (see notes on sterilization).
In the meantime boil 2 litres of water.
When it boils add the salt and the washed and cut vegetables. Cook them for 6 minutes, then drain them, pass them under cold water and put them to dry on a cotton cloth.
Put the vinegar and pepper in the pot and bring to the boil.
Note: the degree of acidity of the vinegar is indicated on the label. For a good preservation it must not be less than 6%.
Place the vegetables in jars without squeezing them, then pour in the boiling vinegar until they are well covered. Divide the peppercorns into two jars.
Place the plastic discs on the vegetables and close the jars. Sterilize 35 minutes as indicated in the notes.
In order for the vegetables to acquire a stronger flavour, it is better to leave the jars to rest for thirty days.
Serve as an appetizer or as a side dish, e.g. with a good boiled meat, sprinkle with a drizzle of oil.
Place the jars and lids in a large saucepan, covering them with water. Bring to the boil over medium heat and leave to boil for 30 minutes. Remove the jars carefully (use pliers) and dry them completely with a clean cloth.
Some steam ovens have a sterilization function. Follow the instructions.
Wrap the jars in clean dishcloths and place them inside the pot as before, filled with water until the jars are covered. Bring to the boil over medium heat for 35 minutes. Leave to cool in the pot. Then dry the jars. If you have used the screw caps, the vacuum should have been created (you can see by the curvature of the cap). Otherwise it is better to use it within 7 days.
Label the jars with date and content before storing them in the pantry. Vegetables must be completely covered with vinegar because this serves as a preservative. It is best to use the special plastic discs to place on the contents before closing the jar.
Store for a maximum of one year away from light, in a cool, dry place. Before consuming it, check that it has been vacuum-packed. Once the jar has been opened, consume within 15 days by placing the giardiniera in the fridge.
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