Let's talk pickling.
During this pandemic, I have become hyper aware of the things that I have little mentally capacity to do and tolerate, like waiting in line to get inside a grocery store and wasting food. To save my sanity, I have been ordering produce through the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box from Azay. Whenever I pick mine up, it feels like I'm on an episode of Chopped and have received a mystery box filled with various fresh produce that differs weekly.
As I lean on this alternative grocery service, there are some days where after stocking the fridge I realize I have accumulated the same seasonal produce, and it has challenged me to become more experimental in my cooking. There are days where I am depleted of my creative juice; where the news gets too heavy and results in me being unmotivated to pick up a knife, and the fruit and veggies get a little past their prime.
It's through semi-channeling my inner bachan (grandmother) that I refuse such beautiful, farm-grown produce to go to waste. (I mention “semi-channeling” because my bachan wouldn’t embody my laziness and unmotivated self). Relying on tips and tricks I learned from cooking beside my lovely culinary friends, there is one that I have resorted to repurpose my sad veggies and fruit: pickling.
I'm providing a basic brine, one in which I learned from working at Porridge + Puffs. This is a recipe where you can experiment and throw in whatever spices and flavorings you’d like. Working along side one of my favorite people and culinary mentors, Erin O’Brien (artist and owner of Meat My Friends), we have experimented pickling things that have expanded my palette from Asian pear to cantaloupe.
In terms of spices and flavors, I have thrown in various ratios of garlic, yuzu juice, pink peppercorn, and any other flavors I'm curious about. Even if I don’t like the flavor in the beginning, I've adjusted flavor ratios or let it ferment longer in the fridge, which can alters the flavor.
The great thing about pickling is that it’s a sustainable experiment where you can just add a bit of that and this with little effort, while knowing you’re not wasting any food.
I dare you to be fearless in your creations, mix and match, and enjoy experimenting!
BASIC PICKLE BRINE
- 1 quart water
- 1 quart white vinegar
- 2 cups sugar
- Salt to taste
Bring ingredients to a boil until all sugar has dissolved and let it cool to room temperature.
While brine is boiling, cut vegetables to desired form and salt heavily to bring out additional water. Let it sit for 5 minutes, squeeze remaining water out of vegetables and rinse.
In a jar or tight sealed container, add additional flavorings and spices along with vegetables.
Pour brine over vegetables and let it sit in brine for 24+ hours in fridge.
- These are refrigerator pickles since I worry about botulism. This recipe is not shelf stable but lasts in the fridge in a tight sealed container for a couple of months.
- I like my pickles on the sweeter side, so adjust vinegar and sugar if it's too sweet for your liking.