Some recent pickling projects

pickled ramps

I have a secret for you. Sometimes, making pickles is so easy that it doesn’t even require a recipe. I have two recent examples, that I hope, when shared, will inspire you to leap up from your computer and rush to the kitchen in order to toss something (anything) with a bit of brine and seasoning.

Back in May, a friend gave me a small jar of ramps (very pungent wild onions) for my birthday. I knew that the way to best appreciate the gift was to pickle them. I did a bit of recipe searching, but found that the dominant pickled ramp recipe available online was a sweet one (if this story is sounding familiar to you, it’s because I briefly blogged about my search for a good pickled ramp recipe back in May). I didn’t want to go that way, so I forged a different path.

Knowing that a standard brine calls for half vinegar, half water and whichever spices make your taste buds sing, I mixed up a concoction of apple cider vinegar, water and some pickling spices (I used my standard Penzeys pickling mix, but added a pinch of cayenne to it for a hint of heat). After a month and a half in the fridge (you don’t have to keep them in the fridge that long before eating, 3-4 days would do it, I’ve just got many pickles on my plate), they hit all the right pickly notes and make this girl quite happy indeed.

pickled mexican sour gherkins

Last Saturday, while strolling the Rittenhouse Square Farmers Market, I happened upon a stand selling pints of tiny cucumbers that looked like miniature watermelons. I asked the farmer about them (a very nice guy named Don) and he said that they were Mexican Sour Gherkins and encouraged me to taste one. They were bright, tangy and fresh tasting and so I bought two pints for $6 (which was more than I’d ever paid for such a small quantity of something destined for a brine).

When I got them home, I suddenly found myself overwhelmed by kitchen projects. My plan to devise a special brine for these little guys was quickly abandoned. Instead I just rinsed them off and poured them all into the quart jar of leftover brine I had in the fridge. The brine was from my end of season pickled asparagus that I did a few weeks ago (you can find that recipe here). Over the last week in the fridge, their natural tartness has married in a highly delicious way with the brine and I munched a small bowl this afternoon just because I could.

So, next time you find yourself with an unusual ingredient, don’t fret over what to do with it. Pickle it! I’ve got a whole bag of garlic scapes in the fridge right now, awaiting a briny fate.

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10 Responses to Some recent pickling projects

  1. 1
    Liz says:

    LOVE your blog. I’m a big fan of pickling, too.

  2. 2
    pam says:

    Does the brine pick up flavors of what you’ve pickled in it? I’ve just finished up some pickled turnips, but I think the brine smells turnipy, and I don’t want to mar the flavor of something else.

  3. 3
    Marisa says:

    Thanks Liz! Your blog is pretty awesome too! I’m so impressed by your pickled beets!

    Pam, when I say that I have leftover brine, I mean that it’s brine that was extra after I made a batch of pickles. It’s not previously used brine. I only reuse brine when I’m adding more of the same thing to it, like the refrigerator cucumber pickles I posted about a few weeks back. Brine does pick up the flavors of whatever was in it, so I wouldn’t reuse your turnip brine for anything but more turnips.

  4. 4
    Jane says:

    What a nice site. I’m a canner also. I haven’t canned pickles yet. They are on my list of to do! I just hear about the softness of the pickles which I don’t like.

    The pickle ramps sound so good! I haven’t not seem them here in St. Louis. I will keep my eye out for them.

  5. 5
    radish says:

    holy cow those are the cutest cucumbers EVER!! And they DO look like little watermelons. As soon as I move, I plan on making half sour pickles. I could easily eat the whole jar.

  6. 6
    Marisa says:

    Jane, there are two ways to avoid pickle softness. You can stick to refrigerator pickles or you can pickle vegetables that have a greater ability to stand up to the heat of the hot water bath. I’ll have a pickled string bean recipe up later today and one of the best things about those beans is that they stay crisp despite being shelf stable.

    Hey there, Sassy Radish! I have some sour pickles currently fermenting on my kitchen counter! Here’s to pickling!

  7. 7

    just happily happened upon your blog today. i have started canning this summer. have been a pickler for awhile. boy, is it addictive. i like your mission–to encourage more of this. it is mine, too. keep on keepin’ on!

  8. 8

    OH! I’ve been meaning to tell you… I pickled garlic scapes in a super-simple sour brine. nothing but garlic scapes (all the ones I’d harvested from the garlic in my garden, except for what I’d already eaten) and salt water. they’re yummy and so much fun to look at.

  9. 9
    Marisa says:

    Thanks Sarah, that’s helpful to know!

  10. 10
    Jen says:

    The best martini I ever had was at En Brasserie, NYC. Dirty gin martini made with pickled ramps… to die for!

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