Good Morning World.
First, I would like you to take a nice big breath, and think about the idea of how therapeutic cooking is. The silver lining to all of this, is that we have more time to spend working with our hands.
The past few weeks have been wild, and because of it there has been a lot of reactionary shopping. I'll be honest, not knowing what the state of things where going to be in just a few days, I totally went out and stocked up on groceries, and I am likely not the only one.
Food has a shelf life, and some of us might have been a bit more ambitious than others; now looking at a mountain of produce that is needing something to be done with it. Today, lets look at a basic “build your own” quick pickle brine to make space in your fridge and add delicious condiments to your pantry.
Why is it called “Pickle” and how does it help preserve the food?
The term pickle is derived from the Dutch word “pekel”, meaning brine. Traditional pickles require a brine, and work to preserve the produce through fermentation by encouraging the growth of good bacteria to fight off bad bacteria. Examples of fermented produce would be sauerkraut and kimchi. We refer to pickled cucumbers as pickles, though you can pickle just about anything. A quick pickle preserves the produce through soaking in vinegar, a strong acid in which few bacteria can survive.
I love the science of food. So, by keeping your food away from bad bacteria, it increases the shelf life exponentially.
It is important to note that there are some bacteria that will survive the vinegar and thrive off a zero oxygen environment, so make sure whatever you are storing your pickles in (mason jars) is sterilized.
Yield: 1 Quart
2 cups water
2 cups clear vinegar (apple cider, red wine, white wine, distilled)
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
Combine all ingredients into a medium sized pot and bring to just a boil to dissolve sugar and salt. If using the brine immediately, carefully pour hot liquid over vegetables and seal jars.
I have included a few other recipes below as inspiration for what you might have right now. The important thing here is to PLAY. Have fun, see what you come up with. The internet is also a great resource for what flavors go together. Also, one of my favorite books of all time is The Flavor Bible and if you have it, now is a good time to use it. If you don't own a copy of that book, get it!
By building your inventory of pickles up, you'll find all kinds of ways to add them to your dishes. A few ideas : toppings for tacos, hamburgers, hotdogs, salads, and even soups.
Heirloom Fire Pickled Carrots
1 lb medium-size red, orange, yellow, and white carrots, unpeeled
Peel from 1 lemon
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 small dried hot red chiles or 1 tablespoon chili flakes 1 1/2 cups water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, cracked
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, cracked
Cut carrots lengthwise into halves, then cut each half lengthwise into halves or quarters (spears should be no wider than 1/2 inch). Pack carrots vertically into 1-quart jar. Add lemon peel, garlic, and chiles.
Add water, vinegar, sugar, salt, coriander, and cumin in medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar and salt dissolves. Carefully Pour hot brine over carrots, adding all the spices to jar.
Bread and Butter Pickled Eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, peeled
6 large eggs
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, vinegar, kosher salt and 1 cup of water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the garlic and let cool completely.
While brine is working, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Fill a medium bowl with ice water. Using a slotted spoon, carefully add the eggs to the boiling water and cook them for 5 minutes. Transfer the eggs to the prepared ice water bath and let cool completely. Peel the eggs and carefully transfer to a glass jar. Pour the cooled brine over the eggs; top with a small bowl or ramekin to keep the eggs and garlic submerged in the brine. Cover and refrigerate for 1 week.
1 1/2 cups white wine or cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large, red onion, sliced into 1/8-inch rounds
In a medium saucepan combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar and salt.
Pack the sliced onions into a mason jar and carefully pour the vinegar brine to cover. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours.