We’ve all felt a similar sense of dread while standing in front of our refrigerator’s crisper drawer with an ever growing pile of produce that we can’t quite use up. Is it possible to eat seasonally without creating waste? How can we be true champions of a CSA whose bushel bounty is so plentiful that at times its a bit much to handle? Three words my friends. The Quick Pickle.
Mastering a quick pickle means the difference between an overflowing produce drawer and a fridge stocked with all the accoutrements needed to transport any dish around the world and back. A quick swap of spices and vinegar in a canning jar (or jelly jar) can transform neglected cukes, cabbage, even a peach or two into kimchi, escabeche or all American bread and butter pickle.
What about botulism or canning sanitization? You may ask. What we love about quick refrigerator pickles is that you get the crisp and tangy taste that you love without the complicated preservation process. Don’t get us wrong, true pickling is an incredible skill to have- and truthfully not as risky an endeavor as it may seem. But for the purpose of making the most out of your bushel there’s no need to go beyond the quick brines we have below. Just make sure to refrigerator your pickles once you’ve prepped them!
Momofuku Vinegar Pickles
Momofuku’s recipe for a quick vinegar pickle is one of our favorites for rescuing excess produce. We love its adaptability. Use the simple brine for anything from garlic to squash to your favorite summer fruit and you’ll have a fermented masterpiece on your hands. Think of this as your utilitarian go-to. Start here and once you feel comfortable explore different recipes. Soon enough you’ll be ready for canning and lacto fermentation.
excerpted from Momofuku Cookbook by David Chang
Master Recipe (Makes 1 quart)
1 C water, piping hot from the tap
1/2 C rice wine vinegar
6 T sugar
2 1/4 t kosher salt
+ Vegetable or fruit, prepared as indicated
- Combine the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves.
- Pack the prepared vegetables into a quart container. Pour the brine over the vegetables, cover, and refrigerate. You can eat the pickles immediately, but they will taste better after they’ve had time to sit—3 to 4 days at a minimum, a week for optimum flavor. Most of these pickles will keep for at least a month, except where noted, though we typically go through them in a week or so after they’ve had a chance to sit and mature.
Farmhouse Kitchen Pickles
Once you’ve mastered David Chang’s recipe, explore the pickle combinations created by the Farmhouse Kitchen for produce specific to your bushel.
If you’d like to take your pickle game one step further try lacto fermentation. This process of fermenting food using only water, salt, and time was brought to the forefront of modern day cooking by Sandor Katz in his cookbook Wild Fermentation. In an airtight environment beneficial bacteria convert sugar into lactic acid creating the tangy flavor of pickled vegetables that we love so much. Don’t let the idea of bacteria scare you, the lactic acid wards off any harmful microbes.
Lacto-Fermented Mixed Pickles
excerpted from The Kitchn
3 tablespoons sea salt, pickling salt, or kosher salt (see Recipe Notes)
1 quart water (see Recipe Notes)
1 cup small cauliflower florets
1 cup carrot chunks or slices
1 cup red bell pepper chunks or slices
1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1-2 grape leaves (optional, to help keep pickles crisp)
1. Combine salt and water in a measuring cup and stir until the salt is dissolved. (You can heat the water first to make the salt easier to dissolve, but it’s not necessary. Let it come to room temperature before making the pickles.)
2. Place the remaining ingredients in a very clean, large jar (a half-gallon mason jar works well). Pour the salt water over the vegetables, leaving at least 1 inch of headspace at the top of the jar. If necessary, add more water to cover the vegetables. (Optionally, place a small bowl or jar on top of the vegetables to hold them under the brine.)
Salt: Use salt that is free of iodine and/or anti-caking agents, which can inhibit fermentation.
Water: Chlorinated water can inhibit fermentation, so use spring, distilled, or filtered water if you can. It is also recommended to rinse the vegetables in un-chlorinated water rather than tap water.