Tags: cooking, pickles
After a bit of cutthroat competition involving a waitlist and a rush to a sign-up event to snag one of fifteen spots off said waitlist (oh New York, why must everything be so difficult?), I managed to secure a spot in a local CSA for the season. One of my favorite things about being in a CSA is also its big challenge…having to think quickly so that the surprise assortment of perishables you are presented with doesn’t do just that. I am determined not to toss anything into the bin, so I have to get a little creative sometimes. There have been some interesting slaws (a kohlrabi one, in particular, was a stand-out) and a lot of grain and veggie salads. Pickling is another great way to use vegetables, especially because the ten minutes you spend to prep your pickles gives you snacks that last for weeks. They are the gift that keeps on giving, so to speak.
When I came home from my CSA pick-up a couple of weeks ago with a sack of Kirby cucumbers, I knew immediately that I wanted to make bread and butter pickles. For just a couple of bucks, I knew I could make sandwich pickles just as tasty as those $10 jars of Brooklyn hipster-made ones that all the gourmet shops around here sell. Quick, refrigerator-style pickles are my thing. I’m just making a jar at a time anyway, so there’s no need for me to get into canning for really-long-term storage. These are extremely easy to make. Not only do you get zingy, crunchy pickled cukes, but also onions(!), which are equally tasty on sandwiches. The recipe says you can keep them for two weeks, but I’m betting that in their vinegary brine, they’ll keep for up to a month in the fridge.
*Have beets? Try these Raw Pickled Beets.*
Quick Bread and Butter Pickles– makes one large jar
modified from Cooks Illustrated (July 2007)
Steph’s Note: The original recipe calls for 3/4 cup sugar, but I reduced it to 1/2 cup (after my experience making some too-sweet pickles out of another veggie a few weeks ago). Use the amount you think would suit your tastes.
1 pound pickling (Kirby) cucumbers , sliced crosswise into 1/8-inch disks
1 medium onion, halved and sliced thin
1 tablespoon kosher or pickling salt
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 – 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon corriander seeds
1/8 teaspoon ground tumeric
-Toss cucumbers, onion, and salt in colander set over bowl. Let stand 1 hour. Discard any liquid collected in the bowl.
-Bring vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, corriander seeds and turmeric to boil in large saucepan. Reduce heat to low, add cucumbers and onion, and press to submerge in liquid. Cover and cook until cucumbers turn dullish olive-brown, about 5 minutes.
-Transfer entire pan contents to glass bowl. Refrigerate, uncovered, at least 2 hours before serving. Pickles can be refrigerated in a clean jar or covered container for 2 weeks.
Something about pickling has always sounded so complicated to me…brines versus cures, acidity and fermentation, blah, blah, blah. I’ll just leave the mysterious intricacies of anaerobic fermentation up to Rick, and not clog up my own (much needed) personal brainspace, thanks very much. But a quick pickle…God, even I should be able to do something called a “quick pickle,” right?
A good place to start for beet-loving, picking virgins like myself is this recipe from last month’s Martha Stewart Living. Trust me, these are easy…so easy, in fact, that after making one batch, I considered myself expert enough to make a second! The first batch was made with red beets, and the second with the striped variety (although the stripes were basically washed away with the hot pickling liquid). Don’t fear the Thai chile…these are not spicy pickles; a gentle backnote is all you get from its heat.
Remember that these pickles are not canned and sealed in a water bath, so do get them into the fridge straightaway and store them there. Give the beets a day or two to relax in their bath before opening the jar. Then they’ll be ready to eat straight-up, to be made into a snappy salad with feta and mint, or to be put Aussie-style on a burger (and preferably enjoyed with a Coopers Sparkling). Supposedly they’ll keep for a month, but I can guarantee you that mine won’t make it a week.
Raw Pickled Beets– makes one jar
adapted from Martha Stewart Living, May 2009
2 red or golden beets
1 fresh Thai chile
1 cup rice vinegar (not the seasoned kind)
1/4 cup sugar
1 fresh bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
-Scrub, trim, and peel your two beets. Slice thinly (a mandoline works best), and transfer to a jar.
-Split the fresh Thai chile in half. Bring chile, rice vinegar, sugar, fresh bay leaf, and black peppercorns to a boil in a small saucepan.
-Pour hot mixture over beets. Seal jar and refrigerate. Beets will keep for one month.