Tasty experiments in a jar.
The “We can pickle that” skit from Portlandia had it (nearly) perfect: Just about everything in your kitchen can be pickled. Quick pickles make the preservation process even easier and provide instant gratification and snackification.
Faster than Fermentation
“The difference between a quick pickle and a standard pickle is in the wording alone,” says Matt Soter, owner of Nevada Brining Co. in Sparks. “A quick pickle is something that you are going to be able to make and eat within the day you are producing it. Most other traditional pickles take a good week or so to get to a point where they are pickled.”
Nevada Brining Co. has recipes for more than 200 types of pickle, ranging from pickled herring roe to pickled pumpkin rinds. Soter makes his own quick pickles at home, but with simpler ingredients. His favorite foods to pickle include those with softer flesh, such as red onions, apples, and cucumbers, which are bathed in a heated brine.
Soter starts by checking produce for freshness and removing any blemishes or blossoms, which can produce enzymes that soften the veggies or fruit. He brings his brining liquid to a boil and then lets it cool to around 120 degrees F so the liquid doesn’t scorch the produce or any herbs. He also recommends lightly toasting spices over medium heat to release the flavors. Soter makes his pickles in glass jars or Pyrex bowls with lids and stores them for about a week in the fridge.
“Pickles are subjective,” Soter says. “People like me, who are pickle people, will snack on them all day, and they won’t necessarily last a long time, but the longer they sit, the better they’ll get.”
Level Up Your Veggies
Wendy Patrucco admires the level of sophistication that quick pickling adds to plain produce.
“Quick pickles are really lovely to put out for appetizers or hors d’oeuvres, put on a salad, or have something you can snack on whenever you want,” she says.
Patrucco is a certified health coach and former Reno resident who has taught quick pickling at the now-defunct Cooking Gallery in Reno. Some of her favorite quick pickles include radishes, asparagus spears, green beans, fennel, and bell peppers. Along with garlic and herbs, she also adds essential oils such as fennel, ginger, basil, and wild orange to her recipes.
Her main tip for making quick pickles is to keep your fingers out of the brine to avoid spreading bacteria. She uses tongs or a wooden muddler to push the veggies into the brine.
“Quick pickles are so good and make a great, quick snack that keeps you out of the chips,” Patrucco says, laughing.
Christina Nellemann’s memories of a childhood summer in Denmark would not be complete without quick cucumber salad with dill.
Quick Dill Pickles
(courtesy of Matt Soter, owner, Nevada Brining Co. in Sparks. Makes 1 jar of pickles)
4 medium-sized cucumbers, thinly sliced or cut into spears
Salt for ice water bath
2 teaspoons salt for brine
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon peppercorn seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
Sprig of dill
2 cloves garlic
Jar or Pyrex container with lid
Clean and prep cucumbers, then add to iced, salted water bath. Heat vinegar, water, and 2 teaspoons salt and bring to boil. Remove liquid from heat and cool to 120 degrees F. Toast spices on medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant. Add dill, garlic, and toasted spices to container. Rinse salted cucumbers and add to container. Pour liquid over cucumbers until they are covered. Cool in refrigerator 1 hour and serve.
Soter suggests experimenting with flavors such as red pepper flakes, honey, hot sauce, or different vinegars.
Quick Pickled Grapes
(courtesy of Wendy Patrucco, health coach and pickling instructor. Makes 1 jar pickled grapes)
1 pound red grapes
1 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons chopped ginger or 1 drop doTERRA ginger essential oil
2 teaspoons whole yellow mustard seeds
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Combine liquid ingredients, ginger, mustard seeds, sugar, and salt in 4-cup measuring container and mix well to create brine. Place grapes in a glass jar with a lid and pour brine to the top. You can enjoy right away, but these are tastier when they sit in the fridge for a day or two.