Giardiniera. It’s a Chicago Thing.

by Courtney on July 15, 2010

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I have a co worker who is a self described Giardiniera addict. We could go on and on about it. She’s one of the few kindred spirit’s I have found, that derives pure pleasure in salty acidic relishes. What is Giardiniera you ask? Well prior to coming to Chicago over ten years ago, I had never heard of it. I would get my heat and acid kick from the East Coats versions of crushed peppers on my submarines and cheese steaks, etc.

So naturally with the Mid West’s summer bounty upon us, and my refrigerator running over with heads of organic cauliflower, peppers, celery,carrots and such, it was time to attempt some Giardiniera. For my first attempt it was pretty good. The co-worker expert said it was Freaking Good’“and wanted some more. The beauty of this recipe, is that you use whatever you have laying around. If  you like your Giardiniera mild, add sweet peppers only. If you like some heat and spice go crazy with the Serrano’s and Jalapenos.After all Giardiniera means “Woman Gardener” in Italian.

To Process or Not?

I went ahead and processed mine in a water batch or my dishwasher method, as I was taught  last year). There is some traditional debate on whether this is safe or not (dishwasher method).If you  do a traditional water bath (the safest method), only do so for minimal time (like 3-5 minutes). At first I thought they didn’t seal, but they did the next day. The veg was still nice and crunchy. I still kept all my jars in the fridge to be safe, rather than sorry, and I’m just about out. If you don’t process, consume within 2-3 weeks and store in the refrigerator.



Makes 5-6 pint sizes

Total time 4 days to process

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 bunch celery
  • 4-5 large carrots
  • 2-3 Red or hued sweet peppers
  • 4 Jalapenos or more or less to taste. Not seeded!
  • 4 Serrano’s . Not seeded!
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Italian Herbs mix (dried oregano, basil, etc)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup Kosher Salt
  • 1 part Vegetable or Canola oil (to cover)
  • 1 part White Vinegar (to cover)


  1. Sterilized jars, and lids. 1 pint size
  2. Clean and chop all your vegetables.Be sure to leave seeds from the heat peppers (Jalapenos and Serrano’s). In a non reactive container with lid, our salt  on vegetables and cover with cold water. Cover and store 24 hours in the refrigerator.
  3. Drain salt water. At this point you may rinse if you find the veg salty. I  like salt, so didn’t. It was just fine. In another container mix your 1 part Vinegar to 1 part Oil with the remaining spices. Mix well and make sure its combined or emulsified.
  4. Sterilize Jars and Lids. Pack the vegetables into clean sterilized jars and cover with the oil /vinegar mixture. Seal and either process in a water bath, or store in the refrigerator.
  5. If you process, let rest after process for 12 hour until sealed. If not sealed, follow instructions from jar manufacturer to reprocess, or store immediately in the refrigerator to consume within 2-3 weeks.
  6. Either way , once complete let, the jars rest for at least 2 days until consuming to allow the flavors to merge.


Suggested Uses:

  • Chicago Beef Sandwich
  • Relish Trays
  • Antipasto  trays
  • Pasta Salads
  • Submarines
  • Pizzas
  • Accompaniment to Charcuterie
  • Or just plain out the Jar