Tag Archives | quick pickles

Slightly Sweet Zucchini Fridge Pickles

two jars of finished pickles

When I was in Portland a couple weeks ago, my parents’ garden was in full swing. There were pole beans, baby greens in a big tub, slicing cucumbers, and an endless number of zucchini. I spent most of my time there preoccupied by the zucchini and all the culinary options it offers.

three zucchini

I pan-fried thick rounds in olive oil and garlic one night. The next day I made a big batch of zucchini butter to spread on toast and toss with pasta. I also made a huge batch of quick zucchini pickles for my parents to layer into their sandwiches.

zucchini in food processor

One thing you might notice about this recipe is that it calls for whole grain mustard rather than dried mustard seeds. This choice was driven entirely by what my mom had available in the house. And truly, I think the prepared mustard was a really nice addition. It adds a bit of extra body to the liquid and a nice roundness to the finished pickle.

finished zucchini pickles top

Because I made these pickles with an eye towards sandwiches, the slices are pretty thin. I you prefer something a little chunkier, feel free to do a thicker cut. You could also process these in a boiling water bath. However, if you have the fridge space, the texture of the fridge version really is a bit more sturdy and toothsome (which I like). To each his own!

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Marinated Carrot Salad for the Fridge

root veg at Union Square

On Saturday, I drove up to New York and spent a few hours at the Union Square Greenmarket, trying to look like a friendly and helpful canning expert. I talked to a lot of people, emptied three pints of jam in samples, and sold 11 books (I had higher hopes for such a highly trafficked market, but the sun was brutal and people kept moving).

Still, I think that the trip was worth it, for the people I talked to and for the fact that the stall I was positioned next to had the most gorgeous array of root vegetables I’d seen in a long time. I must have watched at least 100 people stop to take pictures of those heaps of carrots and beets (they weren’t so interested in the celery).

marinated carrots

Standing in proximity, I started thinking about how much I rely on carrots in my daily cooking. On nights when dinnertime inspiration is low, I turn them into a pureed soup (my favorite is the recipe with toasted almonds that’s in the original Moosewood Cookbook). When I need an easy side, I cut them into sticks and roast them in olive oil. Snacks around my apartment almost always involve a sliced carrot and a tub of hummus.

And at those times when I want something that I can make ahead and keep in the fridge for those moments when hunger strikes, I blanch them lightly and toss them with a quick vinaigrette. It’s a bit like the pickled carrots you’ll find at falafel joints. I originally wrote this recipe for Serious Eats, during my phase as their In a Pickle contributor. Still, it’s a good one and worthy of another moment in the sun.

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Preserves in Action: Pickled Carrots and Daikon in a Sandwich

pickled carrots on a sandwich

Back in March, I cooked up a batch of quick pickled carrots and daikon radish. I thought they were long since gone, but while digging through the fridge in the hopes of making more space for the increasingly large CSA shares we’ve been picking up, I found one last jar. I’ve been making very good use of these rediscovered pickles. I’ve been chopping them into ribbons and adding them to salads, have been eating them straight from the jar and have been layering them into lunchtime sandwiches.

pickles in a sandwich

 

I come from a family who likes pickles in a sandwich for crunch and pucker, and these thin slices of carrots and radishes serve admirably in this role. I always make sure to blot them lightly before applying them to the sandwich (to prevent soggy bread). We’re having a little indoor cookout for two around here tomorrow and I plan on curling these pickles around my hot dog (though I may alternate between pickles and spoonfuls of this fennel relish).

How have you been using your preserves lately? And are you going to be including any homemade pickles in your 4th of July spread? Do tell!

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A Very Large Bowl of Pickles for a Potluck

ingredients for pickles

Last Saturday, I taught a class about cucumber pickles. We made quick pickles, we made preserved pickles, and spent the afternoon filling a church social hall with the arresting scent of boiling vinegar. Everyone went home happy and with jars of pickles clutched in their hands. I went home exhausted (my standard state after a class) and with a 12 cup measuring cup filled with the leftover cucumbers.

green onions

When I got home, I made turkey sandwiches for Scott and me, and contemplated those cucumbers. I considered a batch of preserved pickles (the canning pot was already on the stove, so it wouldn’t have been too much of a hassle), or cooking up a salt brine for a round of kosher dills. Eventually though, my brain skipped ahead to the next afternoon. I was invited to a cookout at a friend’s house and needed something to bring. A bowl of quick pickles seemed like just the thing.

garlic

In my years of canning, one of the things I’ve learned is that while people appreciate it when you bring jars of preserved pickles and condiments, there’s really nothing that thrills a pickle-loving crowd more than when you show up holding a very large bowl filled with crunchy, slightly sweet, gently spicy, tangy pickles.

cilantro

I was introduced to the idea of the very large bowl of pickles many years ago. I was the potluck host that time, and my friend Wendy brought a full-to-the-brim bowl of homemade pickles to the party. At the end of the evening, the bowl thoroughly emptied of every cucumber spear and their deliciousness was all anyone could talk about.

In addition to keeping the leftover brine that night (Wendy okay-ed it), I have long since adopted the practice of making and bringing massive batches of quick pickles to parties. I know how to spot a good idea when I see it.

mint

On Saturday, the concept of a very large bowl of pickles also had the added benefit of using up some lingering ingredients. I had green onions, cilantro (both also leftover from the class) and a bundle of mint. None of it was going to weather more than a day or two more and so needed to be used.

Now, let it be said right now that if you’re not a fan of cilantro or you can’t stand mint, they can be omitted or swapped for some other tasty green herb. Because this is a quick pickle, nearly every component of the dish can be altered, traded or left out completely.

bed of pickle flavor

I pulled out a large bowl that happened to have a tight-fitting lid (to control the inevitable pickle brine slosh). Into the bottom, I heaped green onion segments, slivered garlic, chopped cilantro, torn mint leaves and a generous palmful of red chili flakes (had I had a fresh hot pepper, I would have used that instead).

cucumbers in bowl

I cut up 10 or 12 large Kirby cucumbers and crammed as many as I could on top of the green onions, mint, cilantro, garlic, and red chili flakes.

pouring brine

Then came the brine. I used 2 cups apple cider vinegar, 2 cups water, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and a generous pinch of salt. I will also confess that instead of preparing the brine on the stovetop, I combined all the ingredients in the measuring cup you see there and microwaved it until the sugar was dissolved (since it wasn’t being preserved, there was no real reason to bring it to a full boil).

covered in brine

Once the brine was in (magically, I had the exact right amount), I jiggled the bowl a little and squeezed in a few more cucumber slices. Then, the lid went on and the bowl went into the fridge for an overnight rest. Just to give you an idea of the time commitment these pickles require, once I had all the ingredients in place, it took less than ten minutes from start to finish (and that included pauses to take these photos).

finished pickles

On Sunday afternoon, I wrapped the bowl in a towel (just in case of leakage) and toted them out to West Philly for the party. Happily, the pickles were very well-received. More than once, I heard people commenting on their crunchy, sweet, spicy, pucker. Later that evening, I also got a quick follow-up text from the host that simply said, “Your pickles were amazing!”

The very large bowl of pickles wins again!

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Multi-colored Carrot and Green Radish Pickles

carrots and a green radish

The green one is the only radish, the rest are carrots.

Last week, I reported that I was feeling a little lackluster kitchen-wise and thoroughly tired of winter. Well, I’m happy to report that things are looking up and its all thanks to pickles. Quick pickled carrots and radishes, that is.

sliced

Recently, I was browsing the display of root vegetables at the Fair Food Farmstand, looking to see if there was anything that might tickle my canning fancy, when I spotted baskets of brightly colored carrots and vividly green radishes (I do believe they belong to the daikon family).

At $5 a pound, they were more expensive than my average pickle ingredients, but it had been so many months since I’d felt so immediately moved and energized by an ingredient that I was more than willing to pay up.

salted

Once home with my pricey roots, I washed them well, sliced them thinly on a mandoline, and tossed them with a little sea salt and granulated sugar. This helps draw out some of the water and make room for the vinegar to take up residence. Then I let them sit for about an hour, until the slices looked damp and seemed quite pliable.

into the brine

After a quick rinse and a vigorous shake, into a simple brine they went. My hope was to mimic the pickles that are so often served as garnish at Vietnamese restaurants, so I stayed simple with unseasoned rice wine vinegar, honey, water, and just a touch of salt (I know I started by salting the pickles, but by the time the carrot and radish slices hit the brine, most of that salt has been rinsed away. And unsalted pickles taste flat).

three pints

The pickles only stayed on the stove long enough to just heat through. Then I funneled them into jars and let them sit on the counter until they were cool enough for the fridge. They are both brightly flavored and just so darn pretty (though the purple carrots did bleed their color once they were in the jar and so over time, all those multi-colored roots have turned a near-uniform red).

crunchy fridge pickles

I gave one jar of these pickles away and have eaten most of the second jar tossed into salads of baby arugula and made into little stacks with slivers of cheddar cheese. It’s been fuel for plugging away on a cookbook and dreaming of warmer days.

Notes:

  • If you can’t find green daikon radish, you could easily use the more readily available white variety. If you can’t find that, sub in any radish that you can put your hands on. 
  • This is a refrigerator pickle because it tastes best that way. While you could process it in a water bath canner, the texture won’t be as good.

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Quick Pickles and the End of Winter

quick cucumber pickles

Without really meaning to, I took most of this week off from showing up around these parts. The manuscript for my next book is due in just five weeks (yikes!) and it’s been hard to think of anything beyond those 100+ recipes and their accompanying headnotes and introductions.

I’m also floundering a little as far as preserving inspiration goes. It happens every year around this time, when the citrus begins to fade and there’s nothing bright and fresh and new to take its place (though I have heard tell that champagne mangos are arriving in markets. That’s exciting).

I did recently make the quick pickles pictured above. We had a hothouse cucumber that had gone soft on one end and so I trimmed away the squidgy parts and made a brine from unseasoned rice wine vinegar, some salt, red chili flakes, green onion and dehydrated garlic bits (embarrassingly, we were entirely out of fresh garlic the day I made these). They’ve been good eating and help me remember that more flavorful days are coming.

Are any of the rest of you suffering from some late winter blahs? How are you dealing with them?

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