Pickling was a common way of preserving oysters before the era of refrigeration. We've been pickling oysters in our farm store for at least 30 years. Here's our recipe, adapted for 2 pints of yearling. Keep refrigerated and eat within 6 weeks or so - if you let them sit too long, they'll get very pickly tasting. Serve with ritz crackers.
For the Oysters:
- 2 pints yearling
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup pickling salt
For the Brine:
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup brown sugar - packed
- 1 tsp pickling spice
- 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp mustard seed
- 1/8 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp pickling salt
- 1/2 onion, sliced thinly then cut into wedges
- 1/4 lemon, thinly sliced into wedges
- Clean & sterilized mason jars, with lids
Add oysters, 2 cups water, and 1/4 cup pickling salt to a medium sized saucepan. Water should cover the oysters, so add more if needed. Turn to medium heat and bring to a boil. Boil until firm (should take 1 minute or so) and drain into a colander. Set aside.
In a separate pan, boil white wine vinegar, water, brown sugar and spices for the brine.
Set the colander of oysters over a bowl large enough to collect the brine. Pour brine over oysters to disperse the mustard seeds and spices through the oysters. Layer the oysters in mason jars with sliced onions, add a lemon wedge, and fill the jars with the remaining liquid. The brine should cover the oysters. (Make more brine as needed.) Cover, and store in the refrigerator. Let sit a few days to a week before eating, to give the oysters time to pickle.
Note, before packaging the oysters, wash your mason jars thoroughly in hot soapy water, rinse, and sterilize them in a boiling water bath for 5 to 10 minutes. By this we mean - take a big saucepan with about 3" lip, put the jars in the sauce pan upside down, fill with an inch or so of water, and boil. The jars will suck up water as they boil, so you need to occasionally tip a jar out to prevent the pan from running dry.