We’re feeling green… No, we’re not jealous, and it’s not because St. Patrick’s Day is a week away, although we do love a good Irish meal now and again. (Note: you can find some delicious themed recipes for that here and here). It’s because today we’re talking all about pickles!
Now, you may not think much of pickles…they’re just that side that comes with your club sandwich or burger at your favorite diner. In actuality, they’ve become somewhat of a phenomenon in recent years. Don’t believe us? Just take Sonic’s pickle juice slushie and recent innovations like pickle flavored chips, popcorn, and soda as proof.
All About Pickling
Pickling is a common food preservation technique which has been around for thousands of years. So why the sudden resurgence of this trend?
Pickled foods tap into several popular culinary ideals. For one, consumer palates are evolving; people are more willing to experiment with unique flavors, such as bitter and sour foods. This acceptance also has gastronomic importance—acidity helps to balance out other elements like salt, fat, and sweetness, resulting in dishes with a complex and rich flavor.
The pickling trend also falls in line with the farm-to-table movement. As people are becoming more interested in “buying local” or growing their own produce, there is a corresponding spike in artisanal goods and food storage techniques such as pickling and canning. Pickling is done by submerging foods in brine (a salt and water mixture) and allowing them to ferment over a period of time.
The fermentation process involved in pickling also produces probiotics which, as we wrote about a few weeks ago, is beneficial for digestive health—another recent nutrition and health trend.
Easy Steps for Home Pickling
If you’re interested in trying it yourself, check out The Kitchn’s step-by-step guide to pickling vegetables. Their recipe uses the addition of cider vinegar and spices (garlic, dill seed, and red pepper flakes) to make classic dill pickles using a “quick pickling” technique. You can use a similar method to pickle other vegetables like carrots or green beans using your choice of spices. To make any of these foods shelf-stable, you can process the jars using a simple canning method.
Our Favorite Pickle Recipes
Did you know pickling is used for all sorts of different foods? In addition to the more common foods like cucumbers, cabbage (as with sauerkraut or kimchi), and peppers, you can also pickle foods like onions, beets, eggs, and even fish! In fact, you’ll see pickled red onions on a lot of restaurant menus, and pickled veggies on crudité platters and the like.
While we love all these fun and interesting foods, today’s featured recipes focus on the classic: the pickled cucumber, or simply “pickle.” (After all, it is green—in honor of St. Patrick’s Day).
There’s a reason most burger joints serve pickles atop their burgers by default. Their bold bite of sour helps add a contrasting taste to the rich umami flavor of the meat and cheese. Recreate your favorite drive-through classic with this two-in-one indulgence: a flatbread-style “pizza” topped with a ketchup and mustard mixture, ground beef, cheese, lettuce, pickles, and a mayo-pickle juice sauce!
Go all out with this unique salad. With toasted Martin’s Potato Roll cubes and arugula as the base, it’s topped with shaved parmesan, red onions, diced pickles, and a vinaigrette made with—you guessed it—pickle juice!
Bonus Pickle Recipes
Can’t get enough pickles? Check out our Ploughman’s Sandwich, topped with whole grain mustard, pastrami, Dubliner cheese, tomato, onion, lettuce, and of course pickles! It’s the perfect recipe mashup for St. Patrick’s Day—plus, it’s reminiscent of Irish culture and traditions! (Read more here).
Next, try using the home pickling technique mentioned above to make homemade giardiniera, an Italian pickled relish made with vegetables like cauliflower, carrots, celery, peppers, and spices. It’s especially popular in Chicago atop dishes like Italian Beef Sandwiches.
Have another favorite pickle recipes? Let us know in the comments! (We’ve heard of some interesting ones, like peanut butter and pickle sandwiches)!
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