Pickles are one of those uniquely flavorful foods that are somehow exactly the flavor that is needed on a burger. But, what do we know about pickles and what can we learn from the pickling process?
What is pickling?
Pickling is an ancient form of food preservation that goes back thousands of years. The process of pickling food is rather basic in that you submerge a good in a solution consisting of water and salt (sometimes herbs, spices, and/or vinegar) and store the food in the jarred solution for at least 24 hours but often times much longer. The food becomes pickled extending its shelf life. Pickling also modifies the flavor of the food to a certain degree.
How to make pickles at home
Best Homemade Refrigerator Pickles
- 3 pickling cucumbers, each about 4 inches in length, sliced evenly
- 1/4 cup Vidalia onion, sliced
- 3-5 sprigs fresh dill weed
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pickling salt, or kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon whole yellow mustard seeds
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- Pack a clean pint-sized jar with sliced cucumbers, onion slices, and dill sprigs. Leave a 1/2 inch of space at the top of the jar for liquid.
- In a small pot heat the vinegar, water, garlic, and all spices until the mixture comes to a simmer, and salt and sugar dissolve.
- Cool the brine down to warm and fill the jar so everything is covered with brine.
- Close the lid tightly and refrigerate for 24 hours before eating.
What else can be pickled?
- 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 2 ripe but still firm avocados
- 6 fresh cilantro sprigs
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 jalapeno or serrano chile, stemmed, seeded and cut into thick matchsticks
- Zest of 1 lime, removed with a vegetable peeler
- Combine the vinegar, salt, sugar, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
- Halve, pit and peel the avocados, then cut them into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place the avocado slices in a wide-mouth pint-size glass jar along with the cilantro sprigs, garlic, jalapeno, and lime zest. Pour the cooled brine into the jar and cover. Gently turn the jar upside down and rotate to mix the aromatics, avocado, and brine evenly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (The pickled avocado slices will keep, tightly sealed in the refrigerator, for up to 1 week.)
Pickled blueberries seems odd, doesn’t it? Well, it actually works rather well with venison, duck, goose, lamb, pork, or turkey.
- 1 pint fresh blueberries
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup white or champagne vinegar
- Pick over the blueberries for any mushy or unripe berries; discard those. Pour the nice ones into a pint jar. I like wide-mouth jars.
- Boil together the salt, sugar, and vinegar. Pour over the blueberries, leaving about 1/4 to 1/2 inch headspace in the jar. Wipe the jar rim and put on the lid. Kept this way, the blueberries will last a year or more in the fridge.
- If you want to keep your pickled blueberries on the shelf, make sure you use a new lid, and water-bath your jar for 10 minutes. Obviously, if you want to do this, you should triple or quadruple the recipe to make it worth your while.