Frog Balls...Great With Your Favorite Bloody Mary

I know, I know who the heck likes brussel sprouts! You say NO WAY...I say bring 'um on". Years ago the smell alone was disgusting. But after trying a few good recipes for brussel sprouts, I've truly changed my mind. This recipe is a good recipe to start with. Who doesn't like pickles? I guess the saying is, "don't knock 'em, until you've tried 'em. I think you might change your mind...

Every summer we take friends and family to one of our favorite haunts...Perlick's Distillery in Sarona Wisconsin. It's a great place to enjoy adult vodka beverages, distilled right on their property. While there you can also enjoy a game of cornhole, or possibly have an appetizer or lunch. They have an online service to order food. A nearby restaurant then delivers your order right to your table. 
Perlick's is located right on their farm in Sarona just east of Highway 53 on County B. The owner has enlarged over the past few years and is in the process of adding distilled whiskey to their menu and will be available in the near future. Their product right now is American Yeoman vodka and it's delicious. If you ever get a chance to visit Perlick's, you won't be disappointed. While there ask the owner how he got started. It's a great story...
Perlick's is where I first tried "Frog Balls". A very strange name that definitely makes you chuckle. But man oh man these little babies are the best. They go great with a good Bloody Mary, and Perlick's has a great Bloody Mary or you can cut them up and add to a salad, or you can just eat them right out of the jar.

So after having them at Perlick's I went on a quest to find a good recipe for Frog Balls, a.k.a. pickled brussel sprouts. I love anything that is pickled. Plus the acidic properties of the brine is good for the digestive system. 
If you are planning a New Year's Eve party you might want to try these. They are so good in Bloody Mary's. A great drink for bringing in the New Year. The Frog Balls don't take long to make and can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a month. For long term storage, Frog Balls can be canned by using the canning method below.

Preparing Frog Balls for Storage . . .
First things first. Get all your tools together along with any spices that you may be using. When pickling veggies you will need white vinegar for sure. This recipe uses fresh dill, garlic, black peppercorns, yellow mustard seeds, crushed red pepper flakes and Kosher salt. You can also add a little sugar to cut the vinegars bitter taste.  At this point I usually cut the large brussel sprouts in half. You can leave the little ones in tack. Also make sure you trim the root part of the brussel sprout. A few leaves might fall off, and that's okay. Rinse your brussel sprouts and blanch them for about 5-6 minutes. Remove them from the boiling water and shock them in a bowl of ice water. This will stop the cooking process. Make sure your canner is ready to go also. Fill with tap water and bring to a boil. This will take about 30 minutes. So plan accordingly.

Place your brine ingredients into another large saucepan or dutch oven and bring to a boil. Then turn down the heat to low so it's ready to pour over the filled mason jars.

Make sure your jars are ready to go. I usually run the jars and rims through a dishwasher cycle. This not only cleans them, it also sanitizes them. Place a clean cotton towel on your counter and line up your jars so they are ready to be filled. Place your lids in a small saucepan of water and boil them for about a minute and leave them in the water until needed. 
Now it's time to fill those jars. I layer them all the way up with the small ones and then the larger halves. Pour the brine over the brussel sprouts leaving a 1/2" headspace. Remove the lids from the small saucepan and wipe dry. Also wipe the rims of the jars to make sure there's nothing on them. You want the lids to have a good seal. If anything is on the rim of the glass it will not seal correctly. Place rim over the lid and give it one good twist. Now they're ready for the water bath.  Make sure the water is boiling and place the jars on the rack in the canner and slowly lower into the water bath. Cover the canner and set your timer for about 10 minutes.
Once the jars have been processed lift rack with jars and use a jar holder to remove from the water bath. Place on a clean cotton towel leaving about an inch between each jar. Leave the jars on the clean cotton towel for 24 hours without moving them. Your jar lids will start popping after they start cooling down. Sometime they don't pop, but you can tell if it's sealed by running your finger over the lid. It should be flat. If any of them do not seal, just let them cool down and place in refrigerator. Pickled items usually last for a month or two in the refrigerator. 

Just like good wine, leaving these for at least 3-4 days in the refrigerator or if canned on your shelf in your pantry for the same amount of time. The flavor only gets better with time.
And here you go..."Frog Balls". I've said this a few times in this post, but these are so good in Bloody Mary's. Of course anything is pretty dang good in Bloody Marys, right?

"Frog Balls" a.k.a. Pickled Brussel Sprouts
This recipe will make 2 pints of Frog Balls
  • 2 T. Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. brussel sprouts, trimmed (also cut the large ones in half)
  • 2 sprigs of fresh dill (I found dill in the produce section at Walmart. In the fall you can find large sprigs. But during other seasons you can find it in plastic containers in the produce section where the fresh basil and other fresh seasonings are).
  • 1 small clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 T. yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (or a little more if you like a kick)
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  1. Wash and sterilize 2 pint canning jars and set aside.
  2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, blanch brussel sprouts until tender, about 3-7 minutes depending on the size of the brussel sprouts.
  3. Put brussel sprouts in a large bowl filled with cold water and ice cubes to stop the cooking process.
  4. Place sliced garlic and dill into jars along with the brussel sprouts.
  5. Make your brine...Pour the vinegar, water, peppercorns, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, salt and sugar into a saucepan and bring to boil. Then simmer until salt dissolves
  6. Carefully pour hot brine over brussel sprouts. Let jars cool to room temperature, unless canning. Read directions below for canning.
  7. Place lid on jar and put into the refrigerator.
You can eat them after 3-4 hours, but I find the longer they set, the better they taste. For long term storage, they need to be canned. Canning instructions are below.

First things first. If you have never canned before you will need a few utensils to invest in, canning jar lifter, water bath canner, mason jars, and a wide mouth funnel. Also you will need a ladle for filling the jars. As you do more and more canning, you might need other tools. But for this recipe you will only need basic tools.
When canning make sure all your produce is washed clean and free of any little pests that might be hiding.  Wash thoroughly. For this recipe you will need  finely chopped rhubarb, sugar, water, canned crushed pineapple and strawberry Jello.  These are all the ingredients you will need to make Strawberry Rhubarb Jam. 

Purchase canning jars at the grocery store.  Wash them good and then sterilize.  I actually put them in the dishwasher and run a complete cycle. Sterilize the bands and lids.  (Place on stove in pan with water and boil them.  Keep them in water until ready to use.)  Make sure they are very clean. When filling jars make sure you leave a 1/2" headspace. After you fill the jars, remove lids and bands with tongs from the the hot water pan and place on clean dish towel. Make sure you wipe the jar rims with a wet paper towel.  If there is any food left on the rim, the jar will not seal. Place lid on the jar and place the band over the lid. I twist the rim once to give it a good seal. Don't overtighten. One strong twist does the trick.

While you are preparing the the frog balls, the water bath should be on the stove heating. You need the water bath boiling before you place the jars in the water bath. When it comes to a full boil, turn it down a little bit and place your jars in the water bath. The water bath does not need to be at a full rolling boil when placing your jars in the canner. Like I said before, bring to boil and turn down a bit before you add the jars. Process for 10-15 minutes depending on the recipe. Follow recipe instructions for canning time. Turn off stove and remove jars from water bath using a jar tong.  Place the jars on a clean towel on your counter. Wipe any excess water off the lids and wait for the wonderful sound of the lids popping.  Your jars are sealed when they pop or  the lid is smooth in the middle. Do not move jars from counter for 24 hours. Let them cool and place in your pantry for winter or gifts for friends and family.

Here is a video from Youtube that will help the novice with canning.  
This video let's you know that canning is safe and fun to do.  Come September and October you can process all those wonderful fruits and veggies by canning them. I love making salsa and this is a great way to preserve that wonderful salsa for use at Thanksgiving and Christmas or for just everyday or as gifts. With prices the way they are today, canning is great way to get the freshest produce stockpiled for those winter months.
Every Christmas I give each of my four adult children, homemade breads, canned items and homemade Italian bread, homemade candy and anything else that I've made in the fall. I place them in a large basket or box. It's a great gift for anyone!

One Final Thought...
I do hope you enjoyed reading this post on making "Frog Balls". If you love brussel sprouts, or even if you don't, these little baby cabbages are the best. This recipe is worth trying. Plus, if you have never canned, this might be the recipe that makes you try this method of preserving nature's summer bounty. It's an old art and well worth learning.

Always remember..."Life's dessert first!"...words to live by!