Pickles are just one of those things. Salty, sweet, sting-y and sour, pickles can really transform an eating experience (or, if you’re like me, they can be an eating experience in and of themselves). So, when I learned how to make pickles, I was converted – I’ll never buy pickles again. Here are three reasons why you shouldn’t either…
I know it might seem like those three jars were the three reasons, but I have three more in case you aren’t satisfied.
First reason: making pickles is ridiculously easy. Here’s the recipe: combine 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar (also known just as rice vinegar), 5 or so TBS of sugar, 2 or so TSP of kosher salt with 1 cup very hot tap water. Stir to dissolve the solids, and pack your picklee into a mason jar or tupperware. Cover the produce with the brine, cover, and refrigerate. That’s it. I’m not kidding.
Second reason: almost any kind of produce, be it fruit or vegetable, super-fresh or a little on the old side, can be made into a delightful pickle. Trimmed, julienned, or sliced, vegetables like beets, carrots, celery, cauliflower, fennel, shiitake mushrooms and cabbage make great pickles. Fruit makes great pickles too: try cherries, or chunks of plums, pears, or watermelon.
Third reason: lots of different spices can make your pickles more distinct and complex. We’ve been thinking about coriander seeds, fennel seeds, chinese five spice, cloves, and cinnamon
The pickles will be at their height of flavor in about four days. However, you’ll probably still be amazed by their flavor when you sneak into your refrigerator later that day and try one – or just take them all out on to the porch and stuff your face like we did.
Now, I know some of you may be thinking, “Irene, this recipe has four ingredients including water AND about 3 steps: you’re asking a lot of me. Measuring spoons, refrigerators – this is far too hoity-toity for my tastes.”
That’s why there’s an even quicker, easier recipe: combine sliced cucumbers with three parts sugar and 1 part salt: for 2 cucumbers, 1 tbs sugar, 1 tsp salt. Toss and let them sit for 10 minutes. If they’re too salty, rinse them. And then gorge yourself on the easiest pickles you’ve ever made. Just beware, we’ve only tried this with cucumbers – I’m not totally sure if it would work with all the other produce we’ve listed, but feel free to give it a try and make sure to slice really thin.
This recipe is just one in a series adapted from David Chang’s Momofuku, a much beloved cookbook documenting the rise of the small but mighty Momofuku restaurant empire in New York City’s East Village.