I have had a strong pickle craving lately.  I don’t know if it’s because of the delicious Banchan I have had at the Tofu House in San Mateo; or, just a craving for my Bubbie’s kosher dill pickles.  I just love all things vinegary.  It turns out, making small batches of pickles is easy. Prep vegetables, make a brine of equal parts vinegar and water, add spices.  Cook the brine (or don’t cook it), pour over the vegetables, and then put your pickles the refrigerator for a few days.  This is a great technique to experiment with on veggies from your CSA box.  My first pickle experiment was using purple kohlrabi from my CSA box.

I came across a recipe on the modernbeet.com for purple kohlrabi pickles and I decided to give it a try.  They were very easy to make.  First, I chopped off the stems and sliced them into thin disks.

Then, I made a brine of rice vinegar, water, garlic, lemon peel, sugar, black peppercorns, fresh ginger, and red pepper flakes cooked it in a saucepan.

I poured the brine over the kohlrabi.

I waited a few days — turning the jars every once in a while.  And, then I had these purple kohrabi pickles.

These pickles were really good in a tortilla with a bit of grilled tri tip and some Greek yogurt.  I kept the purple skin on and that is what gave the pickles their purple color; however, the skin is a bit tough to eat.  So, if you want an easier to chew pickle and don’t mind if it isn’t purple you an peel off the skin before pouring in the brine.  These pickles turned out so well (and were so easy to make) that I decided to try a recipe for pickled chard stems that I saw in Bon Appetit.  Any CSA subscriber or gardener will have a bunch of chard stems sitting around.  This is a great way to use them and just as simple as pickling the kohlrabi.

This time the brine was a bit spicier.  It was made of distilled white vinegar, water, sugar, red onion, Sriracha (that hot red sauce with the rooster on the bottle), and pickling spice.  I simply mixed the brine in a bowl.

I poured the cold brine over the stems and let them sit in the refrigerator for a few days.  These pickles were super spicy.  They reminded me a bit of kimchi.  I think this was because I didn’t want to add all the sugar that was in the original recipe and because Sriracha is spicy.  If you want to pickle chard stems in a milder brine, I would recommend less Sriracha or omitting the Sriracha entirely.

My final pickle project was a carrot pickle recipe I saw in Sunset magazine by my idol, Joanne Weir.

This brine was made of distilled white vinegar, water, sugar, kosher salt, fresh ginger, garlic, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, and red pepper flakes.  This time the brine was cooked in a pan and then the carrots were cooked for a few minutes in the brine.

The brine and carrots were poured into a bowl and placed in the refrigerator until chilled.  I think these were my favorite.  But, I have to say these pickling experiments just made me want to try more pickles and to play around with the brine.  So, expect to see more pickle postings and if you have any good ideas let me know.  A good way to show off your pickles is to create a relish tray of assorted pickles, thinly sliced pieced of toasted baguette, and pate or hummus.  Or, you could take thin slices of grilled meat chop them into small pieces and put a small piece of pickle on top, add a toothpick, and voila a delicious appetizer.  This appetizer would be nice with the purple pickles because they are really pretty.  All of these pickles are tart; so, it is good to eat them with something creamy and/or meaty.

Quick Purple Kohlrabi Pickles

Adapted from http://www.modernbeet.com

Ingredients

3/4 lb purple kohlrabi bulbs, stems trimmed, and cut into disks (about 3 2-inch bulbs)

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar

1/2 cup water

2 medium garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

Zest of 1/2 a lemon, in strips

1 tablespoon of sugar

1/4 teaspoon of black peppercorns, crushed

2 thin slices of fresh ginger

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1.  In a bowl, toss kolrabi with salt.  Let stand for about 1 hour.

2.  Drain the kohlrabi and pack into a pint jar or other piece of tupperware.  Bring the remaining ingredients to a boil and immediately pour them over the kohlrabi and mix.  If the brine doesn’t completely cover the kohlrabi add equal parts vinegar and water to fill jar or container.  Cover and let cool to room temperature.

3.  Once cool, place jar in the refrigerator.  Let pickles mature for 1.5 – 2 days.  Turn the pickles a few times a day.  Pickles will keep (refrigerated) for about three weeks.

Sriracha Fridge Pickles

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Ingredients

Swiss chard stems, chopped in half

1 cup distilled white vinegar

4 tablespoons of sugar

3 tablespoons Sriracha (or more or less to taste)

1/2 teaspoon of pickling seasoning (can be found in the spice island at the grocery store)

Make a mixture of vinegar and sugar, then stir in onions, Sriracha, and pickling seasoning.  Pour it all over the chopped stems using 3 cups of liquid for every 1 1/2 cups of stems.  Throw it in the refrigerator for a few days turning the jars a few times a day.

Mustard and Ginger Pickled Carrots

Adapted from Sunset Magazine, Recipe by Joanne Weir

Ingredients

1 – 2 pounds medium carrots (I used one pound; but, the recipe has enough brine for 2 pounds of carrots)

2 cups of distilled white vinegar

3 tablespoons of sugar

3 tablespoons of kosher salt

3 tablespoons of mustard seeds

1 tablespoon of coriander seeds

1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

1.  Peel carrots and cut into 1/4 inch matchsticks.

2.  Bring 3 cups of water and all ingredients except carrots to a boil in a large saucepan.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 1 minute.  Add carrots and simmer until almost tender, 2 to 3 minutes.

3.  Transfer carrots and liquid to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.  Chill, covered, overnight to let flavors develop.  Serve cold.  Keeps, chilled, up to 1 week.

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