Picklers of the world unite!
July 3, 2008 6:28 PM   Subscribe

What's your favourite pickle recipe, and why? And what advice can you offer to a novice pickler?

I've embarked on a cautious foray into the world of DIY pickles. So far I've mostly limited myself to trying to replicate the ones I grew up with, i.e. Dutch-style gherkins and onions. They're nice, sure, but not very imaginative.

So in the interest of adventure, let's hear it! What's your favourite pickle? And if you know how it's made or if you've made it yourself, please share! I know I'm not alone in my pickle frenzy, so let's not be coy about these things, shall we.

Some personal quirks:
-I like pickled vegetables. Fruit... not so much. Previous successes include gherkins/cucumbers, onions, carrots, sweet peppers, and celery. I'm very open to pickling other vegetables.
-I really, really like strong tastes. Anyone remember boo_radley's story in MeTa a while ago? That's me. Basically, the pickles I've made so far have come straight from hell. This does not please everyone, however, and they don't have to be super hot or sour or garlicky or anything. But I do like strong flavours. More specifically, I'm looking to add some meat to my pickles, or say a darker / more umami flavour.
-Most of what I've made and/or read about concerns European- and American-style pickles. I'd be interested to hear about other varieties, such as those from our Asian cousins.
-Relishes to relish! Let's not forget about these pulpier, more spreadable citizens of Pickleland (which I'm pretty sure actually exists).
-I'm also interested in advice a pickle master would give to a novice, such as "cold infusions are for total wusses" or "the amount of mustard seeds should never exceed the square root of the amount of coriander seeds". Of course, I'm totally making these up, but I'm sure you catch my drift.

Then again, feel free to ignore the above, as certainly your suggestion will benefit someone.

Thanks in advance, fellow pickle freaks, and stay sour!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
Dilly Beans! (make 'em hot and garlicky)

Pickled Okra is also a favorite of mine. I don't have recipes, though.
posted by Stewriffic at 7:00 PM on July 3, 2008

Best answer: Here's a discussion about Dilly Beans, and here's a recipe for pickled okra. And, OH MY, you need to make some Kim Chee. I've heard good things about radish relish, too. Add some pickling lime for extra crunch. Oh, and you can do sauerkraut, also. Yum to fermentation.

Here's a whole slew
of good sounding pickling info!

I think you might especially like this garlic pickled chili pepper recipe.
posted by Stewriffic at 7:10 PM on July 3, 2008

Pickled eggs?
posted by timepiece at 8:53 PM on July 3, 2008

Best answer: I like experimenting. Sometimes with disastrous results, sometimes with okay results. You can take pretty much any vegetable and either salt or vinegar it a bit and it will turn out all right. Some things I have pickled (with varying levels of success) include chinese cabbage, eggplant, turnips, and of course cucumbers. Cucumbers are really the most forgiving when it comes to pickling, I think. You really can just take some cukes, salt them a bit, let them sit out to sour somewhat, then add some water to brine them. The only real danger (aside from accidentally killing yourself via food poisoning) is that if you pickle them incorrectly they will be too salty, or bitter rather than flavorful.

My brother used to make eggplant pickled with miso which was very tasty. Traditional miso pickling is for several months, but I think he just pickled the eggplant with a bit of miso for a few days.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:58 PM on July 3, 2008

Best answer: I'd be interested to hear about other varieties, such as those from our Asian cousins.

Well...I really like Japanese pickles myself. Here's a page of Japanese pickle recipes that you could try (including the traditional miso pickling).

Indian pickle, if you have never eaten it, is unlike any other kind of pickle you'll eat. Unlike other pickles which can be eaten on their own by the handful (at least, I can do this), Indian pickle is very very strongly flavored and is, at least for me, too much on its own and needs to be diluted with some rice. (Traditionally, you eat it with your hands, blending it with the rice and scooping small handfuls of it with the tips of your fingers. Of course, I was only shown this once, so there are probably some subtleties that I missed). This would probably be the most difficult to make in the States, as a lot of the base ingredients are unavailable. But if you're okay with...wait for it...simply relishing the flavor of them, jars of Indian pickle are generally available in the "International" aisle of many supermarkets.

In the UK, they don't use "pickle" in the way we do, to mean pickled cucumbers. In general, it will mean a sweet/savory brown relish with a strong spiced flavor, often used as a spread for sandwiches (recipe). But you'd have to specify "pickled cucumbers" vs "pickled x" rather than just saying "pickles".

If you're looking for umami and darker flavors you would definitely enjoy cucumbers pickled in soy sauce. You can pick up a jar of these from any Asian supermarket. I can't seem to find a recipe online, though.

Disclaimer: I have not personally tried any of the recipes linked; they're there for example only. Make at your own risk.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:10 PM on July 3, 2008

What you need are pickled walnuts. Strong? Yes, Killer taste! Here's the recipe out of Mrs Beeton's Family Cookery from over a hundred years ago.

"Ingredients. Green walnuts, vinegar to cover them. To each quart of vinegar allow 1 oz. of peppercorns, 1 oz. of allspice, 1 teaspoonful of salt.

"Method. Prick the walnuts well with a steel fork or large darning needle, put them into an earthenware bowl or pan, and cover them with strong, cold brine previously made by boiling the necessary quantity of water with the addition of 4 oz. of salt to each quart of water. Stir the walnuts 2 or 3 times daily for 6 days, then drain them and cover with fresh brine. Let them remain 3 days, then again drain them, spread them on large dishes and place in the sun until quite black. Have ready some wide-necked bottles or unglazed jars, and three-quarters fill these with walnuts. Boil sufficient vinegar to cover them, with peppercorns, allspice and salt as stated above, for about 15 minutes, and when quite cold pour the mixture over the walnuts. If closely covered, and stored in a dry, cool place, they may be kept for months."

Seriously, these are wonderful, mouthwatering pickles. Real pickles, not the namby sweet stuff that you find in the shops. This is the time to make them as you can find walnuts which have not yet made their shells -- check them before you pick them, by pushing in a pin to feel for the shell. If shells have formed, the pickles are not worth making; wait until next year. I've used both regular walnuts and black walnuts with equal success. Despite what Mrs Beeton wrote about keeping for months, they actually keep for years; I'm eating the last of a batch made over ten years ago.

Note: the quarts above are Imperial quarts, of 40 fl. oz., not the puny U.S. 32 fl. oz. quarts.
posted by anadem at 10:23 PM on July 3, 2008

Best answer: Alton Brown did an entire episode on pickles, with several good recipes. My faves are the Summer Fruits and the Firecrackers.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:57 PM on July 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

I don't know how to make them, but you must try Wickles Pickles. I couldn't find a definitive recipe, but these people are doing their best to replicate them. They're completely addictive- sweet, savory, spicy... mmmmm... You'll like them.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 11:43 PM on July 3, 2008

I liked the pickled red onions in this pork chop recipe. Now I'm all hungry.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:33 AM on July 4, 2008

my favorite pickles are spicy Szechwan pickles - they aren't sour, but very fresh and crisp, with a lot of spice. this recipe is modified from Angela Chang's World of Chinese Cooking (great cookbook for people interested in Chinese food, btw).


8 Kirby cucumbers (pickling cucumbers) or Chinese cucumbers
2 tsps salt
oil for stir-frying
2 tsps Sichuan peppercorns (optional)

Seasoning Sauce Ingredients:

2 tsps fermented black bean chili sauce (but any Asian chili paste will do)
2 tbsps vinegar
1 tsp salt
2.5 tbsps soy sauce
3 tbsps sugar
1.5 tbsps sesame oil
3 tbsps minced garlic

1. Rinse the cucumbers and cut into 1.5 inch pieces (smaller if you have less time for them to soak) and place in a mixing bowl. Add 2 tsps of salt and massage lightly with one hand for about minute. Rinse under running water and drain thoroughly.
2. Heat 3 tbsps of oil. Saute the Sichuan peppercorns until the color changes. Turn off the heat and discard the peppercorns with a slotted spoon. Immediately pour the seasoning sauce and cucumbers into the flavored oil. With the heat turned off, stir thoroughly until well blended.
3. Remove and refrigerate overnight to let the flavor mellow slowly. Serve cold. This dish keeps at least a week in the refrigerator.

makes 6-8 servings.
posted by dropkick queen at 12:10 PM on July 4, 2008

Deathalicious, I'd love a quick miso eggplant pickle recipe, or even just general set of steps, if you've got one. (Skimmed your link but I didn't see a quick one -- apologies if it's there and I missed it.)
posted by librarina at 12:26 PM on July 4, 2008

Response by poster: Just dropping in to say wow, and thanks for all these suggestions, and I will be responding when I've got a chance to check them all out. In the meantime, keep 'em coming.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:30 PM on July 4, 2008

Pickled green tomatoes, maybe half-sour.
posted by parudox at 6:22 PM on July 5, 2008

I'd love a quick miso eggplant pickle recipe

It was my brother, not me, who made it...I'll send him a line and see if he can remember the recipe.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:55 PM on July 5, 2008

From my brother (sorta paraphrased):
I don't remember the recipe exactly.

My buest guess: I'd say to get Japanese or Thai eggplants, cut in thick (3/4" - 1")slices, mixed with salt, packed into a jar. Squeeze them in as tight as possible.

Cover and put aside for a while (depending on ambient temperature between 8 - 24 hours).

Rinse and squeeze out really well. Mix with miso (preferably white/tan soybean or chickpea miso) and a small amount of crushed garlic. Again, squeeze into a jar as tight as possible.

Cover and set aside for another 8 - 24 hour period, and then refrigerate.

It's possible that the salting step isn't necessary -- it's just that you want to be able to rinse off the eggplants after the first pickling step, in my opinion, and you'd lose a lot of miso that way.

Very fresh, sweet to the taste eggplants could probably go straight to miso pickling.
posted by Deathalicious at 3:19 PM on July 8, 2008 [2 favorites]

Hooray! Thanks tons. My mister doesn't really like eggplant and I am growing a few plants of a Japanese variety (and a couple Thai ones, but I don't think they'll make it) so I am looking both for variety and short- to long-term storage of fresh ones. This sounds awesome.

Also, it's the first I've heard of chickpea miso. Will have to investigate that!
posted by librarina at 6:04 PM on July 9, 2008

Response by poster: To those perusing this thread well after its conclusion:

Take the 'best answers' with a grain of pickling salt. I have of course not been able to try each and every suggestion, and there are surely some gems among the ones I haven't got round to.

Once again, thanks again for all of your suggestions, guys.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:42 PM on December 15, 2008

« Older Air conditioning the outdoors?   |   where to go to get my hair ripped out? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.