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Pickles--Cook-Off 32


Pam R
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Welcome to the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off! Click here for the Cook-Off index.

This time, we're focusing on pickles. Pickling is a preservation method that uses vinegar or a brine and versions of pickled vegetables, fruit, fish and meat can be found throughout the world. Whether you've wanted to try your hand at tsukemono (Japanese pickles), kimchi (Korean), Moroccan preserved lemons, pickled watermelon, good old kosher dills, or any other pickle, now is the time to do it!

There are no restrictions here - let's talk about refrigerator versus 'canning' in a hot water bath. Let's argue the merits of vinegar versus salt. Whatever we do, let's help me figure out how to make my grandmother's dill pickles!

There are a few topics on pickles/pickling, including a topic about half and full sours, one on pickle terminology, this topic looked for perfect pickle preparations, and this one introduced a new, quick pickling technique, and most recently, we've had some pickle chat in the Cradle of Flavor cooking topic. If that's not enough inspiration for you, reading Fruit of the Brine, a Tangy Memoir may be just the trick. And don't forget to check the 13 recipes in RecipeGullet!

One last thing. If, like me, you haven't pickled anything since you were five, I've asked for and received a few book recommendations:

  • Quick Pickles by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby
  • Ball Blue Book of Preserving
  • The New Preserves : Pickles, Jams, and Jellies by Anne V. Nelson
  • Pickled: Vegetables, Fruits, Roots, More--Preserving a World of Tastes and Traditions by Lucy Norris and Elizabeth Watt

Who's in?

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Growing up, I spent summers on a farm in NE, and pickles were a Big Deal. It was the patch of cukes (rather than a patch, it was an acre). It was vats of boiling water, a bazillion jars, lids, etc. -- all in the heat of August.

It wasn't until I moved to Asia that I learned that there were all sorts of other vegetables (and meats, for that matter; just think about pickled pigs feet) that the world of quick pickles entered my life.

The current favorite is the Everyday Daikon and Carrot Pickle from "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen" by Andrea Nguyen (testimonial here), but I'm realizing that all of my Asian cookbooks have pickle recipes -- most of which are easy to prepare and cure in record time and make the most wonderful accompaniments to all sorts of goodies.

I no longer wait for what's in my garden, but also choose to shop at the market for what's fresh for quicker pickles.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I will join in, although my digi cam isn't hooked up and uncompatible with this particular computer.

I don't know what I will make, but I'm sure I'll try my hand at some sort of japanese or korean pickle. I won't be able to start till this weekend though.

Yesterday I did something incredibly lazy. I had leftover brine from bread & butter pickles so I tossed in some baby carrots...yes I know that I'm lazy and awful

BEARS, BEETS, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
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I would like to be eventually, but our growing season has just begun; so nothing to pickle yet.

Whenever you're ready - we'll be here. Just make sure to take pictures. And in the meantime, let us know what kind of pickling you'll be doing. Vegetable? Brine?

Would love to join but it's not quite pickling season. We just planted our garden Memorial day.

See my questions above. :wink: Do you pickle every year?

I'm in, with asazuke (light pickles).  So, where are you, Helen? :smile:

Please tell us about asazuke. What are you pickling?

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I'm in, but it will probably be next week or so. My husband has recently requested pickled eggs, so I may do a small batch in a quart jar for him this year. I am also planning corn relish. Then, there are the good old kosher dills - every year! Husband is also fond of pickled okra so that may be in the works.

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I no longer wait for what's in my garden, but also choose to shop at the market for what's fresh for quicker pickles.

Like, how quick?

Yesterday I did something incredibly lazy.  I had leftover brine from bread & butter pickles so I tossed in some baby carrots...yes I know that I'm lazy and awful

Does this work? I have wondered about this (never tried it) - I assumed that there wouldn't be much left in the liquid to pickle another batch, going with the idea that the original vegetables would have absorbed all the good stuff and released water.

I've taken the plunge and ordered a pickling book (ok, 3 books). They won't arrive for at least a week. Since I haven't pickled anything in about 25 years, I figure I need a little planning time. I have no garden, so I'll only be able to use things that I buy, but I have a great little seasonal produce store in my neighbourhood - so I should be able to pick up some cucumbers later in the season. Cucumbers are the only thing I have ever done, and it's been so long since I did them, let's assume I haven't done anything. If anybody has any tips, I'd appreciate them. And suggestions for other things to do would be great.

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The current favorite is the Everyday Daikon and Carrot Pickle from "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen" by Andrea Nguyen (testimonial here), but I'm realizing that all of my Asian cookbooks have pickle recipes -- most of which are easy to prepare and cure in record time and make the most wonderful accompaniments to all sorts of goodies. 

I love that pickle, but it stinks up my refrigerator!!! My two current favorites are red onions and radishes. The pickled onions go on banh mhi (that's probably really bad, isn't it?) and fish tacos. The radishes are purely for snacking. These are both quick (think done in a day)--I've never actually processed pickles, though I get my mother's every year. :biggrin:

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Pam, most of the Asian pickles I have done require cutting up the veg, giving it a quick dousing of salt, a sit in the colander, followed by a rinse and squeeze. Add vinegar, salt, sugar, etc., etc. (depends on the pickle) and anywhere from 15 minutes to a couple of hours in the fridge.

What pickle books did you get? For anyone who ever espies a copy of the Farm Journal Canning book at a garage sale or thrift store, pick up a copy.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I used to make a lot of pickles when I was young and lived in New England. One of my favorites was "watermelon rind" pickles. As I recall, they tasted of cloves and were sweet-and-sour. We also used to make crocks of sauerkraut (that qualifies as a pickle, doesn't it?)

Just recently, my interest in making pickles returned at the same time that my daughter developed an obsession with Japanes food, and so I picked up a copy of Easy Japanese Pickling in Five Minutes to One Day: 101 Full-Color Recipes for Authentic Tsukemono from Amazon. I'm embarrassed to say that I have not tried any of the recipes yet.

I will take the book out tonight and see what I can find in my fridge. :raz: Hiroyuki can hopefully answer any questions (or tell me what I'm doing wrong!)

BTW, does chutney qualify as a pickle? I did put up 24 pints of green tomato chutney a few months ago when my garden was overrun with green tomatoes.

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Would love to join but it's not quite pickling season. We just planted our garden Memorial day.

See my questions above. :wink: Do you pickle every year?

Yes, green tomatoes, cucumbers, summer savory, jalapeños, turnips... :biggrin:

Went down to the creek and picked up some Watercress we'd started 20 years ago. They're spreading like crazy.

This couldn't get easier. Used a 12% solution mixed with vinegar 3 to 1.

gallery_39290_4300_28741.jpg

You have to really pack the watercress tightly. And voila. These will be ready in two days.

gallery_39290_4300_22590.jpg

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What a coincidence that this is the new cook-off! I've never pickled anything before, but just couple of days ago I decided that I might try my hand at making some kimchi. I actually bought a huge jar of whole cabbage kimchi, but once it's gone I think I'll reuse the jar to make my own. I read through a recipe in one of the korean cookbooks that I have and it doesn't seem too hard.

Actually, if we are counting preserved lemons, then I guess I have pickled before.

Chefcrash: those watercress pickles are really intriguing. What do you use them for?

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I'm in, with asazuke (light pickles).  So, where are you, Helen? :smile:

Please tell us about asazuke. What are you pickling?

Here it is:

gallery_16375_4595_24523.jpg

Daikon

Cabbage

Salted kombu

Equal amounts of vinegar and mirin-like seasoning (which doesn't contain alcohol)

This is what it looks like after kept in the fridge overnight:

gallery_16375_4595_67216.jpg

together with cucumbers pickled in almost the same way (with 1 tsp salt instead of salted kombu) the day before yesterday.

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I'm in, with asazuke (light pickles).  So, where are you, Helen? :smile:

Please tell us about asazuke. What are you pickling?

Here it is:

gallery_16375_4595_24523.jpg

Daikon

Cabbage

Salted kombu

Equal amounts of vinegar and mirin-like seasoning (which doesn't contain alcohol)

This is what it looks like after kept in the fridge overnight:

gallery_16375_4595_67216.jpg

together with cucumbers pickled in almost the same way (with 1 tsp salt instead of salted kombu) the day before yesterday.

Hiroyuki,

I have daikon in my fridge now and would like to try this. How long will the daikon keep after it is pickled? Does it darken after a few days?

Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you and be silent. Epicetus

Amanda Newton

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Hiroyuki,

I have daikon in my fridge now and would like to try this. How long will the daikon keep after it is pickled? Does it darken after a few days?

Hmm.... Difficult to answer...

Light pickles are meant to be finished off in a few days... They are much less salty than regular pickles (tsukemono in Japanese). But I can assure you they will keep for at least one week if kept in the fridge, and I don't think they will darken so fast.

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If canning pickles sounds too daunting, think marinating. My favorite marinated cukes and onions can be made in a few minutes, and is nothing more than a quick pickle. I've just discovered just how good the onions are on a roast pork sandwich, so plan to do only onions next time.

Anything you can pickle, you can do in a small batch, say 2 or 3 pints, and keep in your refrigerator, no worries about processing although I sterilize the jars and they always seal. The Farm Journal recipe for Best Ever Bread and Butter Pickles is aptly named, and the cukes are easy to slice thinly using a food processor. I don't know why the commercial ones are sliced so thick.

Other favorites are my Mom's Pepper Relish, great on hamburgers, and Apple Relish, fabulous with fried chicken and soft buttered rolls. I've also made Lime Pickles, shatteringly crisp and colored green, for Christmas.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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A very timely topic, Pam.

Last Saturday I spied at the Reading Terminal Market (Philadelphia) some new, garden fresh kirby cucumbers of a not-too-large size, about an inch in diameter and about four inches long. I couldn't resist so I brought home about a pound and used a brine-dill-garlic recipe.

For the pound of pickles I dissolved a quarter cup of Diamond kosher salt in a cup of boiling water, then chilled it down by adding about 8 or 9 ice cubes. I sliced each cuke lengthwise into halves (if they are larger you can slice them again into quarters -- just make sure they are always sliced longitudinally, not cross-cut), added a small handful of fresh dill, crushed four or five cloves of garlic, added water to generously cover, then topped the non-reactive container with a plate small enough to hold the cukes underwater, placing a heavy jar to weight them atop the plate. (When I remember, I also throw in some coriander and/or mustard seeds.)

After a day they were lightly picked; two days they were half sour; by the third day, when I placed them in the fridge to slow fermentation, they were all the way.

Although I have more than half of those pickles still in the fridge, I found even smaller kirbys, almost gherkin sized, at a farmers market in town Tuesday, so those are now into their second day of pickling. While I sliced the larger ones, I left the smaller ones unsliced and whole; we'll see how they turn out.

Since I'm the only one in the house that eats them, I've decided it's better for me to make them in smaller batches when I see suitable kirby cukes than pickling a couple acres at a time.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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What pickle books did you get? 

I ordered:

# Quick Pickles: Easy Recipes with Big Flavor

# 1 of: Ball Blue Book of Preserving

# 1 of: The New Preserves : Pickles, Jams, and Jellies

For the pound of pickles I dissolved a quarter cup of Diamond kosher salt in a cup of boiling water, then chilled it down by adding about 8 or 9 ice cubes. I sliced each cuke lengthwise into halves (if they are larger you can slice them again into quarters -- just make sure they are always sliced longitudinally, not cross-cut), added a small handful of fresh dill, crushed four or five cloves of garlic, added water to generously cover, then topped the non-reactive container with a plate small enough to hold the cukes underwater, placing a heavy jar to weight them atop the plate. (When I remember, I also throw in some coriander and/or mustard seeds.)

After a day they were lightly picked; two days they were half sour; by the third day, when I placed them in the fridge to slow fermentation, they were all the way.

So there's no canning, but they're left unrefrigerated? And then once they achieve the right doneness, you toss them in the fridge? And all it takes is 3 days?

Has anybody had Bubbie's pickles? I'd like to try to produce pickles that are close to those . . they taste amazingly similar to the ones my own grandmother used to make.

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Does this work? I have wondered about this (never tried it) - I assumed that there wouldn't be much left in the liquid to pickle another batch, going with the idea that the original vegetables would have absorbed all the good stuff and released water.

I had only half a jar left, but when I fit in a whole bunch of carrots to the top of the jar the brine quickly went to the top so there was plenty of it left over. I tried a carrot after sitting in the brine for one day and the outside tasted exactly like a bread and butter pickle (way more crunchier), but the inside hadn't been penetrated yet. All this talk of pickles and penetration is making me feel dirty!!!

I would LOVE to make kimchi, but it is such a pain in the butt. You need a bunch of different ingredients and it is really labour intensive and takes forever. Take radish kimchee for example, that stuff takes forever to eat and the wait is excrutiating.

Another easy lazy pickle is to stick some whole garlic cloves into some miso. The pickles won't be ready for months though.

BEARS, BEETS, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
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I would LOVE to make kimchi, but it is such a pain in the butt.  You need a bunch of different ingredients and it is really labour intensive and takes forever.  Take radish kimchee for example, that stuff takes forever to eat and the wait is excrutiating.

Sheena: Have you made kimchi before? How long does it take? The recipe I was considering only calls for a few days (3?) of fermentation. Also, I think I have all the ingredients on hand except for the fresh seafood and vegetables. But I have been known to underestimate the PITA factor, so let me know what I'm getting myself into.

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This is timely for me, as well... we're having another festival at our place July 5-8, and one of the things I want to make for snacks is a batch of pickles! When I mentioned this at our planning meeting the other day, everyone was really up for it... and they requested pickled eggs in addition to cucumber dills. I was going to go in search of good recipes after I am shed of grandbabysitting duties next week... but now I have a jumping off point! Mine will probably be late, but I'll post my methods & pics when I'm done.

Have been missing this forum since spring rolled around and made me too insanely busy to be here... I sure am glad I decided to pop back in at "nap time" today!

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