Pickles again? Didn’t we just do that? Yes, yes we did. I’ve been munching on the Midnight Quick Pickles from last week out of my fridge pretty much every day. Sorry for the repetition, but sometimes I can’t help the order of our culinary diary. This weekend, Selim’s parents came to visit us in Virginia, and we all joined my parents in Amherst for the day. Selim and I made dinner for the group, with a little assistance on the grill from my dad. Instead of brats and hot dogs, we grilled sucuk (a delicious Turkish sausage) and some spicy venison sausage (hunted & made by my cousin’s husband), with a variety of toppings. We quick pickled these onions earlier in the week, with the thought that they’d go well with the sucuk and feta cheese, but I thought they worked even better with the spicy venison sausage! The slightly sweet, very acidic pickled onions give your tastes buds a reprieve from the spiciness of the sausage with each bite.
My sister recently ranted to us about how “pickles are the cool new thing,” and how “every restaurant is putting pickled vegetables in things that don’t need pickles.” I respect her opinion, but I totally disagree. I think pickles, depending on their variety, could go on just about everything. I think anything spicy or fatty or really rich is improved with some type of pickle on top. I also eat these guys plain, but I’m not sure I’m in the the majority on that one.
Standard Quick Pickle Disclaimer: As we’ve mentioned with previous recipes (see: Midnight Quick Pickles, Red Quick Pickled Cauliflower and Radishes), these are not shelf-safe “real” pickles. They should not be left in pantry or cellar for eternity. They must stay refrigerated. Hence they’re called “quick pickles” or “refrigerator pickles.” We skipped the step of sterilizing the jar and lid that keeps you from getting botulism when canned goods are left on a shelf for months on end.
Pickled Red Onions
- 1 large red onion
- 1 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- Slice the onion length-wise and place in a jar.
- Meanwhile, bring the remaining ingredients to a simmer. As soon as the salt & sugar are dissolved, remove from the heat.
- Once the liquid has cooled, pour over the onions. Refrigerate for 48+ hours prior to using.
Every time we visit my cousin and her husband, we always come home with more than when we arrived. They live in a more rural county, have a HUGE backyard garden, and freezers full of hunting spoils. We were there this past weekend to visit with them and their brand new baby 😍😍😍 We cooked dinner for the new parents, so we brought a fair amount of ingredients with us. But still, our bag was more full when we went home! They sent us home with a bounty of cucumbers and squash from the garden, three whole trout, and a package of venison sausage links from last hunting season! Even a cucumber lover like me can’t eat all those cucumbers before they go bad, so I made some pickles!
If you take a quick glance at this recipe, you’re probably thinking that it’s a pretty standard dill pickle recipe. Vinegar, water, sugar, dill, garlic… they’re standard fair for dill pickles. Why then do ours look dark and why did we call them “midnight” pickles? For that, we have to thank Selim’s devotion to turbinado sugar, which turns liquid darker when dissolved, as compared to refined white sugar.
As we’ve mentioned with previous recipes (see: Red Quick Pickled Cauliflower and Radishes), these are not shelf-safe “real” pickles. They should not be left in pantry or cellar for eternity. They must stay refrigerated. Hence they’re called “quick pickles” or “refrigerator pickles.” We skipped the step of sterilizing the jar and lid that keeps you from getting botulism when canned goods are left on a shelf for months on end.
This recipes follows a 2 part vinegar / 1 part water / 1 part sugar pickling ratio by which we usually abide. Using that ratio, pickles can be infinitely adjusted for more or less produce, different vinegars, alternate sugars, and a variety of herbs & spices!
Midnight Quick Pickles
- 5-6 small pickling cucumbers
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp dill
- Slice the cucumbers and place in a large mason jar or similar.
- Bring the remaining ingredients to a simmer in a saucepan. Stir and simmer until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
- Remove from heat. Leave sitting out or refrigerate until cool.
- Pour cool pickling liquid over the sliced cucumbers.
- Refrigerate for several days. (They’re edible essentially immediately, but will have more flavor if you leave them be for 48+ hours.)
What to do with leftover farmer’s market vegetable bounty that’s about to go bad? Pickle them, of course! I learned my basic quick pickle recipe from Thomas Keller and his book Ad Hoc At Home (otherwise known as the Cooking Bible, as written by the God of Cooking – in Selim’s opinion). The basic recipe for quick pickles is as follows. You may want to sit down and mentally prepare yourself because it’s so difficult.
2 parts vinegar, to 1 part water, to 1 part sugar
Simmer. Cool. Pour over vegetables. Refrigerate.
Complex huh? So taking that basic recipe, you can modify it to your tastes a million ways. Which vegetables are in season? (Or if you’re like me and buy too many pretty vegetables at the farmer’s market, which vegetables are about to go bad?) Try a different vinegar… balsamic, rice wine, champagne…?! All would give you unique types of pickles. Try brown sugar instead of white. Scale up or down depending on how many vegetables you want to pickle. And of course, doctor it up with different herbs and spices!
We’ve done this a quick a few different ways in the past, but here’s what I went with today:
Red Quick Pickled Cauliflower & Radishes
- 5 small radishes
- 1/2 head of cauliflower
- 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
- 1 shallot, minced
- 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
- Slice radishes and cut cauliflower into small, bite-sized pieces.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanch the cauliflower for 2 minutes and then shock in ice water. Set vegetables aside.
- Combine all ingredients except for the radishes and cauliflower in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Bring to a simmer, stirring until sugar is absorbed.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Place vegetables in a large mason jar. Pour liquid over-top. Place in the refrigerator.
- Leave in the fridge for 3 days before enjoying. (They’re edible/won’t kill you immediately, but they’ll taste better if you let them pickle for awhile.)
Note: These aren’t “real” pickles of the canned, like Grandma did it, Little House on the Prairie, feed you during the zombie apocalypse variety. They are not safe to be left in pantry or cellar for eternity. They must stay refrigerated. Hence they’re called “quick pickles” or “refrigerator pickles.” We skipped the step of sterilizing the jar and lid that keeps you from getting botulism when canned goods are left on a shelf for months on end. On a related note, the CDC says that the majority of US cases of botulism are from improper home canning techniques. Tidbit of knowledge for the day.