By Chef Alexa Weeks
We are in the midst of a renaissance for all things pickled. Gone are the days when a “pickle” only referred to a cucumber in brine. But, to be fair, this wasn’t the intended connotation of the word “pickle”. In fact, the United States and Canada are among the few countries that have made the word “pickle” synonymous with a pickled cucumber. “Pickle” truly refers to the process. Items that can be pickled are abundant and include anything from asparagus to squash to sweet potatoes. Almost any fruit, vegetable, or meat can and has been pickled at this point.
Pickled cucumbers can be naturally fermented using the native bacteria found on the surface of freshly harvested cucumbers. This can be somewhat variable because the fermentation is dependent on the naturally occurring bacteria. Another option is to add a culture to the cucumbers to ensure that the same amount of lacto-fermentation takes place every time. However, it’s become more common to simply add vinegar to the brine to reach the desired sour flavor. Much like pickled items, vinegars are becoming more customized and unique, which brings another layer of flavor to pickled items.
Traditional pickling spice includes cinnamon, allspice, mustard seed, coriander, bay leaves, ginger, chilies, cloves, black pepper, salt, sugar, and (in the case of cornichons) tarragon. Perhaps the most classic ingredient for pickled cucumbers is dill. However, fewer and fewer restaurants and retail pickle makers feel the need to play by the traditional rule book. The result is amazing flavor combinations with a background of sour goodness.
Many great small batch regional pickle producers have popped up recently. Fox Point Pickling Company began as a Kickstarter. This Rhode Island based company (named after the riverside neighborhood in Providence) makes Spicy Dill Pickles with habanero as well as Dill Carrots. Another pickle centric business that began as a Kickstarter is Nevada Brining Company, based in Reno. Their “Icky” Pickle is made with Ichthyosaur India Pale Ale from Great Basin Brewing Company. The local partnership has resulted in pickles that are hoppy and delicious. NBC also has Boozy Pickles made with local Nevada whiskey and chili peppers.
If you find yourself in need of quirky pickle inspiration, check out “Putting Up with Erin – A Canning Blog”. Erin blogs about her adventures in pickling and has great recipes including pickled lemongrass and lotus root, sriracha pickled eggplant and zucchini, and habanero and ginger pickled green tomatoes. Another great read is Smoke & Pickles by Edward Lee. This tribute is Southern cooking will make you want to smoke and pickle anything within arm’s reach. Travis Lett of Gjelina has also recently published a cookbook and the first chapter is wholly dedicated to condiments and pickles.
Pickled items have migrated beyond just sandwiches and charcuterie plates. The possibilities are infinite. So the next time you’re at the farmers market looking at a beautiful spring vegetable and you’re not quite sure how to prepare it … pickle it.
Meet America's First 'Master Pickler'
Olympia Provisions built its name on charcuterie, but Joe Vanaman has carved out its pickle department, brining just about everything he can get his hands on.
This London Picklemaker Turns Slimy Vegetables into Bourbon-Fermented Fries
"You can pickle anything," says Freddie Janssen, London-based author of a new cookbook on fermenting vegetables-occasionally in bourbon and then deep-fried.
Perserving the Japanese Way: Traditions of Salting, Fermenting and Pickling for the Modern Kitchen
See sample pages from this book at Wink. I saw the sour plums on the cover of Preserving the Japanese Way calling out to me from the highest bookshelf at teeny-tiny Moon Palace Bookstore, Minneapolis. As the Master Food Preserver for my county, I'm a sucker for beautiful books on food preservation.
Freddie Janssen: how pickling, preserving and fermenting became fashionable
After moving to London in 2008, while working in advertising, Freddie started a food venture called FAT with two friends (the A and the T). Pop-ups and street parties turned into a lunch counter in a coffee-shop-cum-barber's, with Freddie ditching the advertising job, going solo, and eventually supplying pickles and kimchi to a friend's restaurant.
Quite the pickling in Chino Valley - Chino Valley Review
4/13/2016 5:59:00 AM Meet your Neighbors Quite the pickling in Chino Valley Pair market pickled food to hungry folks Legend says that the pickling of vegetables has been around since the Middle Ages. Early Americans preserved a lot of their food by pickling. Today many people still can and pickle the produce from their gardens.
Grand Central Market is hosting a Pickle Party this May
Pickle lovers will be tickled to hear that Grand Central Market is hosting a celebration of all things pickled, brined and fermented. Last year, GCM celebrated bread. This year, on Sunday, May 15, from 10am to 5pm, the venue will "introduce visitors to the wide world of pickles" and showcase pickling traditions from around the world.
Be sure to check back next month for more Culinary Chronicles from the Symrise chefs!