Have some left over veggies lying around from your summer BBQs? Pickling is a tasty way to preserve them and enjoy them in the cold months. The art of pickling dates back to 2030 BC in India where cucumbers originated and first became pickles. The technique spread around the world, and was especially used in New England by farmers who would ferment their excess crops so they would have food for the winter.
All that is needed is a simple saltwater mixture or acidic liquid such as vinegar, and a little bit of time. Kosher or pickling salt helps to draw out moisture in the vegetables. Natural sugars in the food turn into lactic acid when the salt water develops lactic microbial organisms. The lactic acid makes the liquid or brine very acidic, protecting the food from any bad bacteria. Pickling can be done in vessels of plastic or glass such as clean quart containers or mason jars.
A vinegar solution, with your spices of choice, is best for making “quick pickles” as the acidity is already present and works on the produce faster. Quick pickles happen best when the fruits or vegetables are cleaned and sliced thin. They will only have to sit in the brine for several hours.
A longer pickling process which leads to the actual lactic acid production and fermentation is what produces foods like dill pickles, kim chi, and sauerkraut. When left in the brine for several weeks, the veggies turn a yellowish color.
The pickle plate at Statesman Tavern consists of fresh, seasonal veggies. Most recently, we served up the following:
Green beans in white vinegar, bay leaf, salt, sugar, and yellow onion.
Red and golden beets in red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, salt, and sugar.
Jalapenos in apple cider vinegar, onion, garlic, salt, sugar, black peppercorn, and bay leaf.
At Chomp, our signature pickles used to make Frickles and top off the House Burger sit in a brine consisting of:
Water, white vinegar, sugar, salt, black peppercorn, dill, garlic, chili flake, and coriander.
Whether you are stocking your fridge for the winter or just experimenting, pickling is one technique that will transform your fruits and vegetables into a new delicious treat. Now that you know the basics, try to recreate one of our brines or get creative with your own!