A pickle isn’t a problem to be solved. It’s actually the answer to many quandaries.
What do I do with a glut of glistening veg going for a song?
How do I make haste with waste?
How do I add some zip to my ploughman’s or roast?
What’s a thrifty gift for the sister who has everything?
May I present to you these quick pickles – or ‘Quickles’.
It turns out that after a relatively brief bath in a spiced brine you can transform any fresh vegetable (and many fruits) into a cheeky side dish that adds acidity, levity and contrast to your plate.
If you memorise this ratio and you can pickle virtually anything.
The Magic Ratio
- 2 parts vinegar
- 1 part water
- 1 part sugar (can reduce for a more piquant pickle and when using naturally sweeter veg and fruit)
- Pinch of salt
- Whatever spices / aromatics that take your fancy.
Simply bring the ingredients to a boil then pour over packed fruit/veg in spanking clean jars, leaving a few centimetres clear at the top for a vacuum to form. Seal with the lid and store in the fridge.
The best vinegars to use are white, apple cider, rice wine or white wine vinegar. You can use malt vinegar, red wine or balsamic, but they will gift a stronger flavour that can overpower some produce. Small vegetables are best as their water content is naturally lower, so the texture of your pickle will be crisper. The freshest vegetables will pickle best. A quickle-project is also the perfect place to put Imperfect Picks or odd shaped veg to work. Any slight visual irregularity will be overshadowed by the punch of flavour, or remedied by the process of trimming and slicing to prep your pickle.
Your ‘quickles’ will happily sit in the fridge for a few weeks, with the flavours deepening and intensifying as time goes on.
(Nb, if you want to can these pickles so they last for months, place an upturned plate in the bottom of a stock pot for your jars to fit on. Fill the pot with water and bring it to the boil. Boil the jars for 15- 20 minutes. Use tongs to remove the jars to the counter (ouch- they will be hot!) and wait until you hear a ‘pop’ that creates the seal. These pickles will then keep in the cupboard for 6-8 months.)
So, where to now?
Let both what’s shining and fresh and your imagination lead the way. Take advantage of sweet baby cucumbers, Dutch carrots, button mushrooms, cauliflower florets, beets and green beans. Flavour them with fresh herbs like dill, thyme, oregano, and rosemary, aromatics like smashed garlic, sliced ginger, citrus zest, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns, coriander seeds, star anise, juniper berries or red pepper flakes. For a vibrant hue try adding some ground turmeric or smoked paprika to the mix.
But don’t just be limited to whole fruit and veg. Quickling is a first line of defence against food waste. Try pickling the leftover stems of your bunch of Swiss chard, the rind of your watermelon (give it a quick boil for 2 minutes first to soften it) and stalks of your fennel. Add the Swiss chard to the side of braised beef brisket for some piquant cut through. Festoon a platter of sticky barbecued ribs or chicken wings with some hunks of curiously addictive pickled watermelon rind. And try using the hollow stems of fridge cold quickled fennel as a neat alternative to a straw or a swizzle stick for Bloody Marys at your next brunch.
Your quickles will shine on sandwiches and burgers, add zip and contrast to roasted meats and contribute a pleasing punch to salad platters. So what are you waiting for?
Here are two neat ones to get you started:
About Tori Haschka: Tori is a food writer and published cook book author. She’s the author of two books – 'Cut the Carbs!' & 'A Suitcase and a Spatula', the app ‘Poppyseed to Pumpkin’ and the blog http://eatori.com. She and her son Will can be found in the aisles of Harris Farm Manly at least three times a week.
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