Install this theme
Vanilla-pickled fennel

This recipe made for some really tasty bites.  The sweetness and the vanilla flavor are significant—they almost mellow out the fennel’s anise-taste—but the whole works together.  I served them as part of a cheese and nut platter; I imagine they’d be nice in a salad to provide or complement a fruity note.  I’ll have to try that.

Zuni cafe’s zucchini pickles

The superlatives for this recipe of pickled zucchini had me convinced that it would be so delicious, I’d want two batches instead of just one.  I was not so taken as I’d hoped to be, and I’ve spent lots of time and tastings trying to figure out why.  The texture was good and firm, and the mandoline-slices are nice for sandwiches.  I used the lower end of the sugar called for, and perhaps the vinegar really needs the extra sugar, not for sweetness so much as balance?  Or maybe, indeed, for sweetness.  The other variable is the salt:  the zucchini themselves are salted in ice water, to retain the texture and draw out excess moisture, but there is no additional salt added to the brine.  I ended up rinsing off some of the salt because I let the zucchini sit more than the recommended time and worried they would be too salty (the recipe recommended “faintly salty,” and mine were decidedly salty).  But maybe the salt, like the sugar, would have brought the whole together?  In any case, I very much liked the mustardy-ness of the recipe and the tumeric color.  I think I would try them again, in a single batch, with more sugar and with less rinsing.  

The other possible variable:  these are apparently delicious on burgers.  But I don’t eat burgers!  Above, I put them on a tuna melt.  Yummy, but I put too many, and they overwhelmed the end result.  They would maybe be better chopped into a tuna salad…

Refrigerator pickles: cucumber edition

Like the celery bits, these pickles require no heating of the brine nor processing of the jars.  I chose them because they did not call for any ingredients that I did not have (namely cider vinegar, which I was out of due to a certain someone’s shrub-making habit, or dill seeds, which it seems I must procure).  The pickles were super easy to make and ready in two days.  They lack—accordingly, I am thinking—a melding of their flavors:  I can taste garlic, dill, and vinegar each somewhat sharply, and even the cucumber retains a little more of its own watery self.  In comparison with the okra pickles, the recipe of which was similar but cooked and processed, these cucumbers were less mysterious and made for less satisfying bites.  I do wonder if other veggies, done refrigerator style, would have a similarly unfinished, rough-drafty aspect to them, or if it is particularly the wetter vegetables that want to be cooked.  Probably a little of both:  a cooked brine is more developed & a watery vegetable tastes better when it has soaked that brine into all of its thirsty cells.

Pickled beets

The thing is:  I don’t like pickled beets.  I don’t think it was this recipe.  But maybe I should try another?  The earthy sweetness just overwhelmed the bite for me.  They do look lovely, though.  ”Beet red” is really such a vivid deep crystalline magenta.

Pickled okra

I pickled the okra the same day as the celery, using this recipe.  The recipe didn’t specify how long the okra should sit for, so I let them hang out for a week.  They are delicious!  Not as tangy, and not as salty, as the celery.  A nicely balanced pickled treat—a little dill, a little spice, a little vinegar, none of the flavors overwhelming but the end product quite satisfying.  The only problem was that some of the larger pieces of okra didn’t sufficiently soften.  They were woody, and inedible.  They seemed older than the smaller pieces, even though they came from the same batch—and I guess, being bigger, they were older.  I would reserve those for another purpose next time.

In praise of bits

I was hesitant about making the pickled celery bits, because I had imagined pickling big pieces of celery that could be eaten out of hand.  But the bits have proved useful:  toss them into a grain salad (or toss them into grains, add some sriracha and sprouts, and call it grain salad).


To combat the extra-saltiness of the pickled celery, I drained the brine of the second jar & replaced it with a 1:2 solution of white vinegar + water. It worked: the celery bits were tart but not so puckery.  I imagine this solution only works for quickly pickled and quickly eaten treats.  It also would be a shame to spill out a more complex brine (this one was only vinegar + water + salt + sugar).

Pickled celery bits

Smitten Kitchen’s recipe was an easy quickle for my first pickling project: no cooking and ready in 30 minutes, though I waited an hour or so.  I couldn’t find any celery recipes that were intended for the long haul; it seems that celery loses its crunch after about a week in the pickle, so these are meant as more of a condiment than a solo treat. They turned out very (too) salty, if quite tasty.  I think this may be because I am still experimenting with substituting different salts; the recipe called for kosher and I used sea.  Based on the food in jars calculations, I put in .5 oz per jar (the recipe is for one jar).  I think one teaspoon would probably have been sufficient.  I’m wondering how different salts affect the final product and if some taste saltier than others.  In any case, these bits were yummy with avocado toast & some sprouted mung beans.