How to Make Quick Pickles (Quickles!)
Here's the how-to and why we're making a big 'dill" out of this crunchy, salty preserve.
Have you examined the power of the pickle lately? Not only do they spice up your cheeseburger and add a refreshing crunch to charcuterie spread, these preserves are a nutritious and delicious way to extend the life of produce way beyond the growing season. Pickles are also a snap to prepare at home with just a few pantry staple ingredients and the right recipe. Although National Pickle Day is several months away (mark your calendars for November 11th) we can celebrate all the reasons why we love the humble pickle every day. We'll toast to that! *pickle jar clink*
1) Instant Sandwich Improvers
Pickles boast a world of flavor whether they're added to sandwiches, salads, spirits or eaten on the their own, fresh or fried. Have you ever asked yourself "hey, what makes these things so darn good?!" The answer could be biological; a good pickle can trigger our "happy" taste receptors (salty, sweet, sour and umami) when eaten. In terms of chemistry, salt unlocks aromatic compounds within foods, and we perceive those as enhanced flavor. Trained culinarians know that adding a little salt and acid unpacks a plethora of flavors in a dish, making food more interesting and pleasurable. Sure you can get these flavors from a combination of other condiments (ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, etc) but the pickle has it all in one package - plus it has a crunchy texture that lends an appealing contrast of texture to soft foods like burgers or wraps. Win win win!
2) Your Body Craves 'em Too!
The flavor-to-calorie ratio in pickles is remarkable; just one big spear of a proper pickle contains less than five calories. Remember that pickles are vegetables, so they're dense in nutrients, minerals and fiber - especially when you process them yourself (check out the Quick Pickle recipe below!). Pickles catch a lot of flack for their sodium content - salt is an important ingredient to the preserving process as well as flavor development - but because they are so flavorful, many find that pickles satisfy as a substitute for plain kosher salt. Making your pickles at home also lets you control how much salt goes into your pickles. Certain fermented pickles offer probiotic bacteria, which are beneficial for a healthy gut.
3) Tastiest Way to Reduce Food Waste
People around the world have been pickling for thousands of years. It was a necessity as there weren't many ways to preserve food for a quite a long period in history. Pickles were also easy to transport and store; they fed sailors and soldiers while traveling and their families at home during less fruitful winter months. These days, home cooks and gardeners get creative with their abundance of produce and food scraps by pickling them. By repurposing food and food scraps into something delectable, you reduce potential food waste, which is particularly significant as the United States is guilty of tossing 40% of its food in the landfill!
How to Make 'Quickles'
Also known as a the "Quick Pickle", the recipe for these crunchy homemade snacks is simple and requires only a few basic ingredients: vinegar, salt, sugar (optional) and your favorite blend of herbs and spices. Prepare a jar and store them in your refrigerator for up to two months (if you don’t devour them all by then). Why stop at cucumbers? You can use this basic formula to preserve any of your fresh, seasonal produce, from carrots and turnips to brussels sprouts and beets.
For one pound of vegetables, you'll need:
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt (or 2 tsp of pickling salt, if you've got it)
Optional flavor agents:
- 1 tbsp. white sugar
- 1-2 sprigs of fresh herbs
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 1-2 tsp of whole or ground spices
- 1-2 tsp of dried herbs
1) Gather your jars: two pint-sized jars work for this recipe, but any jars you have on hand will do. Wash and dry them thoroughly.
2) Peel, chop, dice and slice your vegetables to your liking. If cutting into spears, be sure that they fit your jar.
3) Distribute any fresh and dried herbs, ground and whole spices, and garlic into your clean jars
4) Pop your chopped vegetables into the jars. Pack them down as tightly as you can (without squashing them!)
5) Make your pickling liquid: combine vinegar, salt, water, and sugar (optional) into a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, and stir until salt and sugar are completely dissolved.
6) Carefully pour your hot pickling liquid into your jars, leaving a 1/2 inch space at the top. Lightly tap the jars on the counter to force out air bubbles.
7) Allow the jars to cool, then tightly seal them and store in the refrigerator. Wait at least 2 days before cracking the jars open; the flavor improves with age. They'll keep for two months!
We're proud to partner with Doux South, a family-run artisan business that uses only the freshest produce along with fantastic hand-crafted brines to bring out their natural flavor. Each jar is hand packed with pride in their production kitchen in Decatur, Georgia, and you can get your own through the online Market.