Back in early January, my best friend and I supped at The Foundry in Somerville, Mass. It was one of those divine meals that you dream about months later. Pickle-lovers from way back (her dad makes the most divine dills!), we just had to have the farmstand pickles. Oh, how we devoured them.
Not too long ago, I was at Devil's Den with my roommate. I was going on and on about how much I love their housemade pickles- I had been at Devil's Den the day before, also raving about them- and he was gracious enough to ask the waiter for my very own dish of them. What a moment- my own little dish!
Sensing a theme- pickles, in 2011, were bringing me an awful lot of food joy- I took on making my own pickles.
I started with reliable Deb's bread and butter pickles and her cider vinegar pickled carrots. The night I made the bread and butters, I served them with Brooklyn Bowl Fried Chicken. Four friends, sitting around the table, eating a whole jar of divine pickles-- does it get much better than that? The pickled carrots were milder, sweeter, and grew on me over time.
Next I tried Mark Bittman's dill pickles from my beloved Essential New York Times Cookbook. It took four or five days for the salt brine to go from salty to perfectly pickley. The dill is subtle, overpowered by intense buttery garlic flavor (so what if I didn't half the garlic when I halved the recipe!). They are concentrated little flavor bombs, packing powerful savory punch. The cucumbers stayed refreshingly crisp.
Needless to say, I am totally converted to home pickling. I've been doing about a pound of vegetables at a time, keeping the batches manageable and allowing us to rotate through them quickly since I haven't taken on any complex canning techniques. Pickling is the perfect break from studying. I can ready a batch in about twenty minutes. For the cost of a jar of grocery store pickles- squishy, soft, boring grocery store pickles- I can make three or four jars of homemade pickles. They would be the perfect
So is it surprising that I am eagerly awaiting the shipment of a book called The Joy of Pickling? Hardly.