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A proper pickle

To some people, a pickle is a pickle is a pickle. I was one of those people until a few months ago. The pickle was the silent partner on a sandwich plate: a little green sidecar, if you will, or the dinghy that floats obediently alongside the ship. It was made of cucumber, supposedly, and still bore the seeds to prove it, albeit now sort of mushy and gelatinous. I usually just pushed it out of the way, unless the plate in question came from my father’s hand, in which case the pickle, I knew, would be a special kind that was cold and crisp and quite tasty, the sort of flavor that gets the salivary glands going. But otherwise, most of the time, a pickle was just a pickle, and nothing to get excited about.

But then along came Brandon, and he brought with him a strange, slightly unnerving need for vinegar. The man craves acidic foods like a person stranded in the desert craves water. His private world is filled, I imagine, with mirages in the shape of vinegar bottles and citrus fruits. When we met, he owned somewhere between 24 and 30 types of vinegar, a fact that he cited quite early in the wooing process, and with no small amount of pride. Today our collective pantry has happily adopted most of them, except a few stragglers that stayed behind with his old housemates in New York. There are balsamics and Sherry vinegars, champagnes and red wines, port vinegars and apple ciders, and in most cases, a few brands and ages of each. Luckily, he uses them in measured quantities for me, but when no one is looking, he’ll sip them from a spoon. For someone with a fine-tuned palate, he takes a very heavy hand to the acid on his plate. I need just enough to kick things into balance, but one seat over, he’s almost slurping at the jar of vinaigrette. And if not that, it’s a tall glass of grapefruit juice, or maybe, lately, a pickle. Or a lot of pickles.

This pickle business started a few months ago on a night out at the Boat Street Café, where we decided to try the signature rotating pickle plate. What arrived looked like a painter’s palette in shades of vinegar and salt: a few strokes of asparagus down the center, a splotch of red peppers, a pink pile of red onions, then golden raisins, button mushrooms, halved shallots, spindly farmstand carrots, cauliflower stained with curry, even prunes and sea beans, each pickle infused with its own herbs and spices. Notably, there was not a single cucumber in sight. A prickly cloud of vinegar hovered over the plate, and smelling it, Brandon looked genuinely moved. Even I got into the spirit, stealing all the prunes and most of the peppers, and putting up a little fork-and-knife fight for the last bit of cauliflower. The word “pickled” feels too dinky to describe what had happened to these vegetables: they were cool to the touch but warmly spiced, with a heady, vaporous flavor that registered sweet and sour at the same time.

But because our wallets do not permit frequent pickle-plate outings, and because Brandon, ahem, requires a regular influx of acids, he started trolling our cookbook shelves, and a week or so ago, the kitchen temporarily became a small-scale pickling plant. For a first go, he tried two varieties: one a Food & Wine recipe using a bunch of sweet baby carrots from our CSA box, and a second from our household standby The Zuni Café Cookbook, a method for pickled red onions with a handful of sweet-hot spices. Both recipes were surprisingly easy and completely painless, save for the hour or so that the house was filled with the sharp smell of hot vinegar, and then, oh, then there were the pickles.

The carrots were just so-so, but the onions were close to transcendent: cold and juicy, with a flavor that—between its many layers of cinnamon, clove, and chile—might best be described as Christmas in July, spicy and sweet. They look soft and bendy, but once between the teeth, they give way with a surprisingly noisy crunch, the calling card of a proper pickle. Straight from the fridge, dredged up with a fork, a few rosy ringlets make a handy remedy for a heat wave, I find, preferably with a tall, curvy glass of wheat beer and a wedge of lemon. Hell, if things continue apace, you might even find me digging for a spoonful of brine—although I’d probably have to fight Brandon for it first.

Pickled Red Onions
Adapted from The Zuni Café Cookbook

This is a very special pickle. There’s no denying that the recipe has a lot of steps, but each of them is easy-peasy, so don’t be tempted to cut corners. The process of repeatedly blanching and cooling ensures that the pickled onions are softened—relaxed, if you will—but still delectably crisp, as a good pickle should be. A few picky notes about ingredients and procedure:

- Use round or flat red onions that feel nice and firm. Do not use torpedo onions, whose layers are too thin to make for a properly crunchy pickle.
- Use a pot made of stainless steel or another non-reactive material, such as anodized aluminum.
- Use wooden spoons. Aluminum would, warns Judy Rodgers, turn the onions an “unappetizing bluish mauve.” Nobody wants to eat a pickle that’s the same color as your grandmother’s bath towels.

Once your pickled red onions are ready, try serving them with a drizzle of good olive oil, which tames their vinegar tang with a lovely, rich finish. We like to eat them as an hors d’oeuvre, with some fresh goat cheese or slices of sharp cheddar and some crackers. They’re also delicious with grilled meats—hamburgers, flank steak, chicken, whathaveyou—and would be killer, I’ll bet, with chicken liver paté.

4 cups distilled white vinegar
Scant 2 cups granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick, broken into a few pieces
4 whole cloves
2 pinches ground allspice
1 small dried chile, broken in half if you prefer a spicier pickle
2 bay leaves
About 20 black peppercorns
1 ½ lb. red onions

In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, cinnamon stick, cloves, allspice, chile, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil over high heat.

While the brine is heating, peel and trim the onions. Slice them into rings about 3/8 inch thick. Separate each slice into its individual rings, discarding any thin, leathery outer rings.

When the brine mixture boils, add about 1/3 of the onion rings and stir them under. They will turn hot pink almost immediately. As soon as the brine begins to simmer around the edges, about 20 seconds, stir them under again, and then remove the pot from the heat. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon, tongs, or a spider, and spread them on a platter or rimmed baking sheet to cool. They should still be firm. Repeat with the remaining onions, in two batches.

Once the onions have cooled—you can slip them into the fridge to speed them along—repeat the entire process, again in three batches, two more times, always adding the onions to boiling brine, retrieving them promptly when the brine begins to simmer again, and cooling them completely. [If you are cooling your onions in the fridge, this will not take as long as you think. It’s not so bad.] After the third round of blanching, thoroughly chill the brine. Transfer the onions and brine into jars: we used two quart-size Mason jars, which were each about two-thirds full. The most important thing is that the onions be in a container that allows them to remain submerged in the brine. Store in the refrigerator.

Age the pickles for at least a day before serving. They’re very good after 24 hours, but the flavors will have melded more harmoniously after 48. From there out, it’s delicious all the way.


Anonymous FoodieNerd said...

Hi Molly-
I am a fellow “Foodie” and a long time fan of your delicious food stories. Up until now I’ve never posted a comment, but I just couldn’t hold on to my request any longer. I would LOVE to see a list of all the cookbooks you and Brandon own and use to draw your inspiration from. I am cookbook collector myself and enjoy viewing lists of other people’s collections (it helps me not feel as guilty for my overflowing cookbook shelf). Thanks!

12:12 AM, July 25, 2006  
Anonymous J. Bo said...

Oh, MAN! Only a couple of sentences into this post, I had to run to the fridge and grab a garlic kosher dill and cruch/slurp it down while reading the rest... and I may have to fetch one of the last three remaining (and scribble an urgent replacement note on the shopping list) before I hit "return."

It's one of my culinary crosses to bear that MY honey doesn't like pickles, or vinegar, or ANYTHING sour. It makes me sad for him... but greedily happy for me, when I get ALL the excellent crunchies he eschews. Our only really ugly battles occur over Thai beef salad-- he thinks he's entitled to ALL the beef, 'cause he wants nothing to do with any of the veg or dressing.

I'm not sure this relationship can be saved...

4:51 AM, July 25, 2006  
Blogger wheresmymind said...

Holy catz!!! Double digits for vinegars...that's outta control in sorta a cool rainman type way :)

5:29 AM, July 25, 2006  
Anonymous ann said...

Perhaps Brandon is my long lost brother... I've been known to do all those things. One of my favorite snacks in the whole world is to sit down and tuck into a jar of pepperoncini or my mother's insanely good dilly beans, or pickled red beets, or cornichons... you get the picture, but my latest addiction is salty, brined almonds!

5:32 AM, July 25, 2006  
Blogger Rachel said...

One of my favorite pickles are hot dill green beans. there is a company that makes them commercially but they run 5-7 dollars a jar. I decided to make them myself, adapting a recipe for dilly beans. Mine are now better then the original - hotter & more garlicy.

5:45 AM, July 25, 2006  
Blogger Derrick said...

You should tell Brandon to make his own vinegar--you can get a much more acidic product that way.

6:08 AM, July 25, 2006  
Blogger I need orange said...

I used to know someone who made fermented pickles from green tomatoes, cauliflower, and bell peppers. Those pickles were coddled and pampered -- kept at exactly the right temperature. They were delicious.

I look forward to more incursions into the briney part of the pantry.

6:18 AM, July 25, 2006  
Anonymous Luisa said...

I have had a sack of Kirbies sitting in my fridge for a WEEK because I want to try to make my own pickles (both the LA and NY Times have nice-sounding recipes) but something keeps holding me back. You have, as always however, inspired me to get cooking.

8:33 AM, July 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heya Molly,
Just before I left New York I went on a Big Onion gastronomical walking tour of the Lower East Side -- way too brief, in my opinion, but man, we got to eat some tasty pickles! The half sours were maybe my favorites. But these look soooooooo good ...


9:41 AM, July 25, 2006  
Blogger christianne said...

Normally, my idea of "making pickles" is just to slice up a fresh cucumber and toss it in the brine from an empty jar of store-bought pickles. (Which does result in very crunchy, though only slightly sour cucumber pickles) But these sound delicious! Very pretty color as well

9:54 AM, July 25, 2006  
Anonymous Leah said...

I knew there was a reason I liked Brandon. Well, beyond him being totally wonderful for and to you, of course. Vinegar! I can't get enough. When given the oil and vinegar cruets at a restaurant, I have been known to put almost all vinegar on my salad and barely any oil. And pickles? More than once I've eaten half a jar in one sitting before forcing myself to walk away from the fridge...

For Brandon, a ridiculously overpriced vinegar to dream about adding to the collection one day: cucumber vinegar.

10:00 AM, July 25, 2006  
Blogger foodiechickie said...

I looooove pickles and pickled products. Maybe it comes from my easter european background. I remember for a long time my parents would celery, pickle cabbage, carrots and cauliflower so we could eat them in the winter with more heartier meals. They relieved the stomach from that heavy feeling after eating a stew or casserole. My favorite are small pickles because the are cute, have more of a crunch and are milder. I hope to learn to pickle one day.

11:12 AM, July 25, 2006  
Blogger pomegranate said...

I'm drooling.

11:44 AM, July 25, 2006  
Anonymous Melissa F. said...

I'm dying for a pickle right now and unfortunately, I'm at work! I have pickled onions at home and I love them on hot dogs. And Rachel, I would love to know your recipe for pickled green beans!!

1:29 PM, July 25, 2006  
Blogger kickpleat said...

mmmm, those pickled red onions sure look pretty and next time i'll add some cloves with the cinnamon! my own stash of onions is long gone but luckily i threw in a few red radishes in their place (delicious!)

as for sipping the pickle juice and dipping into a lovely vinegrette...i share the same secret!

2:49 PM, July 25, 2006  
Anonymous Pamela Hyland said...

Hi, Molly

Your pickle post got me thinking of my parents and my first husband (I'm pretty fond of him so it's not a bad memory!). My Dad loved those tiny, briny cocktail onions in his martinis and he would often fish one out for me as we chatted at cocktail hour (he often had two or three in his glass even though he shook his head over taking up extra space that could have been filled with gin) - the tingle was remarkable! And my Mom loved cornichons with her pate', the tangier the better - and she taught me to love them, too. And Jim's mother made the world's best pickled beets - no sugar at all, just vinegar and spices poured over the beets; they made the most glorious color counterpoint on a plate! Thanks for another fun post - keep 'em coming!

5:48 PM, July 25, 2006  
Anonymous Tanna said...

I've only done a few pickles but they've always been a huge success. Yours look really good. I have to try the red onion.

2:19 AM, July 26, 2006  
Anonymous LPC said...

I've recently ventured into the pickle world myself. Everyone here in Paris eats the little cornichons from Maille for aperos and more so, in the summer time with cured ham and saucissons... You are right - Pickles do have staying power on our palates!

4:56 AM, July 26, 2006  
Anonymous Ellie said...

I'm quite a pickle fan myself, but Brandon's love sounds far beyond the kind of love I'm capable of harbouring for pickles!

The recipe sounds great, and those photos are amazing! Wow - your red onions are *really* red!

6:11 AM, July 26, 2006  
Blogger Lisa said...

I love that you kicked off that whole pickle homage with a link to the pickle that started it all for me, too. As a kid, we would wrap up big juicy rueben sandwiches, crack open that big bottle of Pepsi and never, no never, would that rueben be unwrapped without the big, CRISP Clausen's wedge right there.

I've got a quick brine method for all the softer veggies that I came across a few years back on a first date - if you can believe that. The cukes went from farmer's market to washing machine to jars and a ten-minute water process in an insulated cooler filled with boiling water. The sting of vinegar was still there in the air, but the house didn't have to become a summer sauna...

7:21 AM, July 26, 2006  
Blogger Lydia said...

Here's an easy, mild, and completely addictive pickle, to add to your recipe collection:

Enjoy, and thanks for a wonderful post.

12:33 PM, July 26, 2006  
Anonymous Carolyn said...

Loved your pickle post. When I lived in Australia, I often used a similar pickled red onion recipe gleaned from Mollie Katzen. (It can be found here: http://www.globalgourmet.com/food/egg/egg0798/onion.html). Those translucent pink slivers graced many an aioli-kaseri-and-marinated-Swiss-chard sandwich happily eaten at a riverside picnic. Here in Zimbabwe, my latest post mentions a restaurant called The Phoenician. What is doesn’t mention is that one of the most wonderful features of this Lebanese restaurant is the small plate of pickled cabbage and carrots the proprietors provide gratis when you eat-in. Their puckery-tartness is the perfect nibble between bites of tabouli, hummus and tajen fish. Reminds me I must ask the chef for the recipe!

1:28 PM, July 26, 2006  
Anonymous maryeats said...

I find that every post I read, my mouth waters.

I too have a fondness for pickles, and cannot wait to try these.

Beautiful pictures as always.

7:15 PM, July 26, 2006  
Blogger hello jamie: said...

oooooh, I'm with Brandon on the vinegar. (I can't believe he doesn't like olives!!!) I grew up on pickled okra. It's a little harder to find in New Jersey than in Texas, but hoo-boy, that is some good stuff. And you have just inspired me to make pickled green beans (which are the perfect bloody mary garnish).

I think I'll make them tonight. Thanks!!

7:43 PM, July 26, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Oooh, FoodieNerd, I would love to see that overflowing cookbook shelf of yours! I could spend hours just perusing, I'm sure. Our collection is quite modest, actually, given how much we both cook. Between the two of us, I would guess that we own maybe 60 or 80 cookbooks. There would be more, but I have a (maddening, some might say) tendency to get rid of things immediately if I don't think I will use them or if I haven't used them in recent memory. If it weren't for that, wow, who knows! If you want a full list, drop me an e-mail, and I'll be happy to tell you what's on the shelves. Recently, the ones that I've reached for most often are The Zuni Cafe Cookbook (no surprise there!) and Chez Panisse Vegetables. [Apparently, I have a wee bit of a Bay Area bias.] And when I'm not cooking from a book, I'm digging into a big, bulging accordion folder full of clippings from magazines and newspapers. I could spend a whole lifetime trying to cook my way through that thing!

Oh, J. Bo, NOTHING sour? Oh my. Maybe I can send Brandon over to perform an intervention. Let me know if things get dire...

Wheresmymind, I know - it is just a tad beyond the norm! But trust me, there's no Dustin Hoffman here. Phew.

Salty, brined almonds? Now this, Ann, is something we must try. Is this the recipe in question?

Rachel, might you be talked into sharing that recipe for the dilly beans? I have a feeling that more than a few of us would thank you heartily. Please? Please?

Derrick, I passed on your advice to Brandon, and he surprised the hell out of me by actually saying no! The man brews his own beer, bakes his own bread, makes his own pickles, but no vinegar? I guess we all have to draw a line somewhere. [Phew!]

I need orange, that pickle combination sounds delicious. I love pickled cauliflower and bell peppers, and I'll bet green tomatoes would be wonderful too. Glad to hear that we aren't the only ones who've been coddling our pickles...

Luisa, get into that kitchen NOW! I expect to see a pickle post tout de suite, young lady.

Lisa, this is the first I've heard of those Big Onion tours! I never think to do things like that, but wow - what a terrific way to learn about the city and its little corners. Sigh. Maybe on our next visit?

Christianne, I love your method for "making pickles." All our fancy blanching and cooling does make an awfully tasty result, but on the average day, count me in with you! Please pass the cucumbers and the empty pickle jar...

Leah, ma cherie, I owe you one! That cucumber vinegar will make a killer birthday present (shhh!) for my local vinegar fiend. [Brandon, you'd better not be reading this.]

Foodiechickie, that's an interesting point. My dad came from an Eastern European (Polish) immigrant family, and he loved a good pickle. I wonder if he ate them at home as a kid. I'll have to ask his brother, the keeper of family lore these days...

Pomegranate, you'd better find yourself a pickle. Hop to it!

Melissa F., you're dangerous! Now you've gone and made me crave a hot dog. Oh, for a hot dog...with pickled onions...

Kickpleat, your pickles look wonderful, and so easy. And given my feelings for radishes, you had to know I'd swoon a little at the thought of that...

Oh Pam! Is there any chance that you might be able to get that pickled beet recipe? I love the idea of all that vinegar and spice over sweet, earthy beets. Wow. Say, you know, that recipe might make a nice wedding gift for someone. [Isn't my subtlety remarkable?]

Tanna, I had never even considered making pickles at home until Brandon started prowling the cookbook shelf. But as you know, they're so easy and so delicious! Lots of bang for your buck. I hope you do give the red onions a go...

LPC, I love those little Maille cornichons! I don't know what it is, but they're just spectacular - heads and tails above other brands. Brandon introduced me to them, actually, fittingly enough. And with cured meats, oh, oui!

Ellie, I know, the color of these is a little otherworldly, isn't it? There's something about the cooking process that really locks in and amplifies their color. So pretty on a summer plate!

Lisa, it's lovely to know another Claussen kid! We had it good. I can still remember that flavor - ahhh. But now, a washing machine? Could I, pretty please, convince you to share the recipe? You can't just leave us hanging like that...

Lydia, your recipe looks wonderful - and wonderfully easy too! Every house needs a good dill pickle method. Looks like we'll be ordering some pickling spice from Penzeys in the very, very near future.

Carolyn, that sandwich with pickled onions sounds heavenly, as does the riverside picnic. I could go for both right now, actually, maybe with a trip to that Lebanese restaurant afterwards. At a small desk in Seattle, a girl dreams...

Thank you, maryeats! I hope you find these as tasty as we do.

Jamie, I had completely forgotten about pickled okra! It's a staple in Oklahoma too, where I used to run into it at friends' houses in the summertime. [My parents, being East Coasters and such, never quite got into the okra thing.] But about these green beans, might you have a recipe to share? We have a big bag of them in the fridge, ripe for picklin'...

10:30 AM, July 27, 2006  
Anonymous Leah said...

Yay! Glad to be of service. If you do get it for him, please tell me how it is. FYI, it was featured in one of the recipes for gazpacho in last Sunday's NYTimes magazine...

Oh, and speaking of pickled green tomatoes, have you ever tried Tomolives? Hoo baby, are they good and sour. Little mini green tomatoes, all perfectly pickled. I think I'm going to have to fish one out of the jar right now, in fact. Okay, maybe two.

3:47 PM, July 27, 2006  
Anonymous Leah said...


I just perused the website for the company that makes Tomolives... and they have pickled brussel sprouts!!

3:49 PM, July 27, 2006  
Blogger Garrett said...

Looks fabu. I heart the Zuni Cafe Cookbook!

4:41 PM, July 27, 2006  
Anonymous ann said...

molly, that's the recipe, didn't mean to be self serving, but they truly are FANTASTIC!
i hope you like them if you try them!!!

5:54 PM, July 27, 2006  
Blogger hello jamie: said...


Leah, ohmigah, I haven't had one of those in forever! I'm going to find some TOMORROW. I LOVE them. There's a real Italian (ie: mob-owned) place in South Philly that serves them in their martinis. Mmmmmmm.

Molly, I will post my pickled green beans tomorrow or the next day... I have some fresh, here, too, and it's a sinfully easy recipe. Perfect for summer!

11:07 PM, July 27, 2006  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Brandon has "acid influx disease"!
Me too.

9:48 AM, July 28, 2006  
Anonymous Julie said...

Oh dear, I do remember that gorgeous pickle plate from our evening at the Boat St. Cafe. What amazed me about those pickles were the differences, not only in textures but in flavorings, both subtle and bold -- some were redolent of sweet spice, others sharper and hotter, still others with a whiff of curry. When Brandon goes into full-blown pickle production, please let me know. Of course, they'll have to be a guilty pleasure at my house, since G has NO taste for pickles whatsoever.

1:57 PM, July 28, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Leah, you're a genius. I know I've heard of those Tomolive things before - maybe my brother uses them in the martinis in one of his restaurants or something? - but I've yet to taste them. Hooo boy, I take this as a sign: the time has come! And even more importantly, HOLY CRAP(!!!), pickled Brussels sprouts! It's like pickled cabbage, but cuter! My heart just skipped a beat.

Garrett, it looks as though an informal fan club is forming around here...

Ann, I can't wait to try them! I'll see if I can get Brandon on board, and if we can find room in the fridge - oof.

Oooh, Jamie, thank you! Hip hip hooray! I'm waiting with baited breath and a big bag of green beans...

Aw, cookiecrumb, you're so clever! I'm so relieved to know that Brandon's disease has a name. Phew.

Julie, I'm hoping that Brandon will ramp up pickle production for Christmas, and maybe that we'll start canning a bit too. Ambitious, I know, but the spicing on these red onions would be delicious for the holidays. If all goes according to plan, you might find a pickled package on your doorstep...

3:41 PM, July 28, 2006  
Blogger Tea said...

I knew there was a reason I liked Brandon--vinegar, lemon juice, bring it on! I just had my first experience with canning my own pickles. As of yet, I've only tried one of them (the dills need 8 weeks to ripen), but they were so good we nearly ate the whole jar the day we opened it. I've been tempted by the Zuni onions as well. Now I really must. Hooray for pickles, and for Brandon leading the way.

6:14 PM, July 28, 2006  
Blogger a. said...

I just discovered your blog in the wonderful world of food blogs, and I am enjoying the posts and images that accompany, im just getting started with your most recent posts. Try pickled melons- when is season, cantaloupe, and honeydew are great. cheers

9:34 AM, July 29, 2006  
Blogger Anali said...

I was very intrigued to hear about all the vinegars that Brandon has. I've never been a big vinegar person, but last weekend I purchased some d'anjou pear vinegar. It sounded so good and was in such a pretty bottle. I couldn't resist! I'm marinating some fish that I will be grilling tonight.

2:35 PM, July 29, 2006  
Anonymous sgk said...

You and Brandon may wish to check out the Romanian marinated mushrooms recipe in "Sundays At Moosewood."

You can you eat them with a fork or toothpick, and I served them one time with a big bowl of lettuce so the marinated mushrooms (which includes tomatoes) served as both dressing and salad fixings.

9:32 PM, July 29, 2006  
Blogger Gourmetish said...

You picked a good man! I loooove a good vinegar. However, I'm a novice when it comes to pickles and still prefer the cucumber. You have me intrigued, though, and I might have to investigate myself. Great post!

2:06 PM, July 30, 2006  
Blogger kim@convivial.org said...

I'm thrilled the Boat Street Cafe is back in business - they have been sorely missed! Thanks for the pickle recipe - can't wait to try it.

6:31 PM, July 30, 2006  
Anonymous Nicky said...

Dear Molly,
your pickles get the award for "most beautiful and tempting color"! My grandma use to make wonderful pickles, but somehow I never prepared any myself. So I bought another cookbook some weeks ago, which features all sorts of pickles and chutneys - in case you're looking for more inspirations: Perfect Pickles by Catherine Atkinson

PS: About your habit to get rid of unused things immediately: That's what Oliver does - and I never do (but I wish I could)...

4:47 AM, July 31, 2006  
Anonymous Nicky said...

And I forgot: As far as Brandon's love for vinegar is concerned - I come from a family where we were fighting for the empty salad bowl... The one who was lucky was allowed to "drink" the remains of the dressing. In which we used waaaay to much vinegar... Now I'm getting nostalgic!

4:55 AM, July 31, 2006  
Blogger T said...

Hi Molly. I made this pickle a few days ago and I am swooning over it. I adore pickles and this one is definetely becoming a small obsession.

2:16 PM, August 01, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Well, dear Tea, apparently I tend to gravitate toward vinegar fiends, both in romance and in friendship! Your pickles sound fantastic - and those 8-week dills? Swooooon! One more reason why I wish we lived a little closer to each other...

A., I know just what you mean - pickled melons are wonderful. I had my first taste of one - a watermelon, to be precise - at the Boat Street Cafe a little while back, and it was so unusual and SO delicious!

Oooh, Anali, a d'Anjou pear vinegar sounds very, very intriguing! So, how was the fish? Inquiring minds want to know...

SGK, I'll have to check out those mushrooms. I love marinated or pickled mushrooms, and quite conveniently, I have Sundays at Moosewood! Thanks for the tip.

Thank you, Gourmetish! And if you love a good vinegar, you really should investigate further into the pickle world. The way the flavor of vinegar plays with various vegetal flavors is pretty drool-worthy...

You're welcome, Kim. And hurry - get yourself over to Boat Street. We were just there on Friday night (with Melissa of The Traveler's Lunchbox), and it was so, so good, as always.

Nicky, thank you - so much! - for giving me a heads-up about Perfect Pickles. It sounds like a perfect birthday present for my live-in pickle worshipper! And about that business of drinking from the salad bowl - too cute! I can just imagine it.

Oh, Tanvi, I'm so glad to hear it. A pickled red onion obsession is a very good obsession to have, I think.

1:21 PM, August 07, 2006  
Blogger Rachael said...

Such a fantastic post. As always.

It gave me such a thrill just now to see your red onion pickle, since I make them all the time, and posted about it last summer. I am always TOTALLY fascinated by how different people make the same thing...differently. (Uh, I hope that made sense) Its what I love most about blogs. Hee.


6:01 PM, August 23, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

I know exactly what you mean, Rachael. It is pretty amazing how many different routes we can take to get to the same - or a similar - end, in red onion pickles or any number of things. Yours look wonderful - and wonderfully quick. Thanks for the heads-up!

11:45 AM, August 24, 2006  
Anonymous avocado green oven said...

These are amazing, amazing, amazing. I made them this weekend, and have spent the last two days figuring out vehicles to get more of them in my mouth. Just plain is just fine, but I worked out a version of my favorite turkey burger recipe.

2:53 PM, June 05, 2007  
Blogger Molly said...

I'm so glad you like them, avocado green oven! Now, tell me about this turkey burger...

11:22 PM, June 07, 2007  
Anonymous Aoi said...

These are so great. I've just about emptied the jar I made for myself, so I'm armed and ready to make a double batch in the next day or so (to keep and to share). There will definitely be a permanent place in the fridge for these beauties, thanks to you!

9:29 PM, September 18, 2007  
Anonymous emiglia said...

I am just like your Brandon... I NEED me some acid. I inhale citrus fruit (and force it on others), but mostly I need pepper-vinegar sauce (aka Tabasco). I put it on everything. I used to carry a bottle around with me in my purse when I was eating out of a cafeteria.

7:48 AM, November 29, 2007  
Blogger Peanut said...

8 words: the pickled fennel recipe from the Babbo cookbook. it's delicious with the chicken liver crostini, but also--just delicious.

1:12 PM, June 11, 2008  
Blogger Felicia said...

Just made a batch of these, and now struggling to wait the suggested 48 hours before digging in. I processed them for longer-term storage (10 minutes in a hot water bath) so only blanched them twice because I was a bit worried that the processing time/heat would render them too soft. I'm planning to make a big batch to give as holiday gifts, along with other goodies from my backyard. Will let you know how they turn out...

10:26 AM, August 31, 2009  
OpenID domesticfeminist said...

30 vinegars...no wonder you like him. I would be head over heels for that and that alone.

12:20 PM, September 15, 2009  
Anonymous Jen/YVR said...

Molly -

I know this post went up almost four (!) years ago, but thought I would put in my two cents.

I hope that the baby carrots you tried to do were not your first and last experience with pickled carrots. When done right, they are soooo good. I would say probably my favourite home-pickled vegetable, to be honest.

At the end of every summer, I spend two weeks at my folks' house, much of which is spent in their garden. I pick baby carrots, baby beets, green beans, and the biggest, oldest cucumbers on the plot. And then my mom and I start a-pickling.

We slice the beets into thick coins and cover them in a lightly spiced vinegar and sugar mixture. The resulting deep-purple pickles are the only way I enjoy a beet.

We make a small batch of spicy pickled green beans, like an earlier poster mentioned. Perfect in a Caesar (or Bloody Mary, for y'all south of the border).

We take the big, old, tough cukes and use a great, old hand-cranked slicer to shave them into paper-thin rags that get mixed with green and red peppers and onions and a mixture of spices (including turmeric, which gives them a fantastic yellow colour) salt and sugar. Once the mixture has sat for a hour or so, you pack it into jars and top up with a pickling liquid, and there you have bread-and-butter pickles. A sweet-and-sour tangle of slightly soft crunch that is fantastic on sandwiches or just along side a few nice slices of cheese. Or, in my case, eaten with a fork directly from the jar, standing with the fridge door open.

And then there are the carrots. They have to be baby. And not the 'baby' carrots they sell in the grocery store. Proper, from-the-garden, baby carrots. Packed into their jars with whole cloves of garlic and dill, they are magic. I have to ration my jars throughout the year, because I could easily go through my entire stash in the course of a few short months.

I don't know if you accept gifts like this (is sending pickles to people you've never actually met kind of weird?), but if you do, I would love to send you jar to try to and help you see the attraction!

12:11 PM, March 21, 2010  
Blogger Molly said...

Jen/YVR, your pickles sound amazing, all of them! Especially those cucumbers with turmeric! And the green beans! You and your mom clearly know your stuff. As for the carrots, though, not to worry. We eventually made up a pickled carrot recipe that we love, and we served it at our rehearsal dinner, actually. It uses apple cider vinegar, garlic, thyme, and some hot chile. (It's in my book.)

But if you still want to send me some pickles, how can I say no? Feel free to e-mail me at cheeseandchocolate (at) gmail (dot) com.

12:42 PM, March 21, 2010  
Blogger K said...

Just polished off a jar of pickled carrots after reading these comments. My husband and I have a small CSA farm and we put up our excess harvests primarily in pickled form; I'm always looking for new things to try. (& those onions might be next on my list!)

PS: I was a drinking the dressing sort of kid, too. Glad to know there are more of us out there.

8:20 AM, July 15, 2010  
Blogger rampantelephant said...

This is amazing! My partner love pickles, read this and went to the Boat Street Cafe just last night! Yum yum yum! We both looooved the onions there, the garlic, and especially, above all, the fennel! In the wake of those pickles, we're left wondering, is there an amazing recipe for pickled fennel?!

2:14 PM, August 09, 2010  
Blogger Jay said...

Hi Molly
Better late than never they say. In this case what? Five years later! Lovely pickled carrots, I make dilled baby carrots but am always on the lookout for other versions. I'll try your recipe just as soon as the first crop of baby carrots show up at the neighbourhood farms. Also, I couldn't help but notice a posters comment on salty brined almonds. Brined amonds? Never heard of such a thing until now. I did a bit of searching as the thought of pickled almonds was so intriguing. Well... It seems from what I've found so far, pickled almonds are imature green almonds and they are only available for a short period of time during the growing season. I've copied a paragraph from the California Almond board about pickled almonds, and am adding a couple of links on green almonds, with one being a recipe. Enjoy!

6.What are green almonds?
1.Green almonds are available for a brief three-week period in the growing season from late April to early May, the developing almonds are considered “ripe” for harvest as green almonds. Pickling or brining green almonds will extend the shelf-life of these delicate treats.
2.Green almonds have a jelly-like, soft inside and a soft fuzz on the outside.
3.Due to their short life span, green almonds have always been considered a rare delicacy. They can also be purchased brined or pickled, which extends the life.
4.Green almonds are used by chefs as a cooking ingredient, but also as a garnish.
5.Green almonds have a distinct but subtle flavor that is hard to pin down, but has been variously described as delicate, grassy, fruity, and even green.

Pickled Tsagala (Green Almonds)


More info on green almonds.


8:06 PM, May 05, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I keep hearing / reading that ZUNI café in SF invented this recipe... but pink hot pickled onions can be found as a staple side dish on your plate at home-style border/Sonoran / Chihuahuan restaurants. I've enjoyed them many years and I'm pretty sure these home/style restaurants never heard of ZUNI.

2:21 PM, July 02, 2014  
Blogger Willcat94 said...

I'm a bit ashamed to say that this is the first of your posts that I've seen. Since seeing it, I've fallen in love with your blog! Since I moved to the Pacific Northwest, I don't have as many of the cookbooks that I grew up on (especially those by the wonderful Alice Waters) back in the Bay Area. Your blog is keeping me sane!!

9:38 PM, March 26, 2015  

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