Romanian Pickled Vegetables (Muraturi)

My kids call these the stinky veggies, because, well, honestly, they do stink.  But they are really good and healthy.  Of course, I grew up with these because it was the only way to enjoy vegetables during the winter months.  Since during communism we didn’t really have refrigerators (just insanely small ones) and canned or jarred food was out of the question (only rotten stuff would go in there and they were all expired), we simply pickled the vegetables.  They were just perfect for the winter and as a side dish to mostly anything, or even as a snack.  I will only give the water-salt ratio, as the exact amounts depend on the size of your jars and on how much you want to pickle.  Also, the variety of veggies is endless.  I wanted to pickle celery root and leaves too, but they are very hard to find, so I just left them out.  Carrots, cauliflower, green tomatoes and red cabbage are very common.  Whatever you prefer, just enjoy!

-pickling or kosher salt
-vegetables of choice cut into chunks (if using green tomatoes, leave them whole; the red cabbage needs to have the stump remove and be quartered)
-bay leaves
-whole garlic cloves, peeled
-red pepper flakes

To every 4 cups of water add 1 heaping Tbs of pickling salt.  Mix it in a large pot and bring it to a simmer (do not boil it!).  You might need to do this step in batches, depending on how much you want to pickle.
Meanwhile, on the bottom of the jar, lay 1 Tbs peppercorns and 2 bay leaves.  Place your prepared vegetables on top.  Try to fit them snugly in there.  Leave a couple of inches from the top of the jar.
Pour the warm salt water on top of the vegetables. Top with 4 garlic cloves and 1 tsp red pepper flakes.  Cover with plastic wrap secured with a rubber band and the top of the jar.  Keep on the kitchen counter for about 2 weeks or until pickled.
Every day, during the pickling period, using a tall straw, blow into the liquid to air it out so that the vegetables won’t rot.
This is how they look at the beginning.

 My liquid changed colors because of the red cabbage.  But see how the veggies came up on top as they pickled.

Once the vegetables are pickled, place them in the refrigerator to keep longer.  Enjoy!

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