The art of the pickle

It’s easy to bring summer’s bounty well into fall

Eric Floyd WAC Executive ChefBy Eric Floyd, Executive Chef

Pickles—crisp, briny, and best eaten straight from the jar! For me, pickles conjure up a certain late-summer nostalgia of my grandmother slicing and jarring cucumbers, carrots, beets, cherry tomatoes, and pretty much any good veggies she could get her hands on. Spicy, sweet, mild, hot … there are an infinite number of ways to pickle vegetables, and you don’t need any jarring expertise to get started.

In fact, quick pickling is one of the easiest ways to preserve your late summer bounty. Quick pickling produces outstanding results—known as “refrigerator pickles”—without the added hassle and equipment of true canning. It’s best done using market-fresh vegetables, preferably from your backyard or your neighborhood farmers market. My favorites are carrots, cucumbers, and red onions.

Begin by washing your produce thoroughly and peeling the carrots and red onions. Then, slice the cucumbers into thin rounds, cut the carrots into spears, and sliver the onions into rings.

For the brine, use a basic one-to-one ratio of vinegar to water. You can adjust the brine to your liking and use just about any vinegar out there. Rice wine, apple cider, and red wine are some of my favorites. You can also add salt or sugar if you like. The best way to step up your brine game is through the addition of spices. Fresh dill is a classic, but rosemary and oregano work nicely, as well. Garlic cloves, fresh ginger, and whole spices—like mustard seeds, peppercorns, and coriander—are also worthy additions.

Once you’re done with prep, pack your veggies, herbs, and spices tightly (but gently—no smashing!) into clean mason jars. Be sure to leave about an inch of room at the top of each jar. Heat the vinegar and water in a sauce pan, add any salt or sugar, and simmer until dissolved. Pour the brine into your vegetable-laden jars, again leaving a little space at the top. Screw the jar lids on and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, place your pickles in the fridge for at least 48 hours before you open the first jar. The longer you let them enjoy their briny bath, the better they’ll be!

The key is to have fun with this. Try out different combinations of veggies, vinegars and spices. Your pickles should last in the refrigerator for up to two months, so you can enjoy the summer even in October.

As published in the September/October 2019 issue of WAC Magazine.

—Posted August 27, 2019

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