That doesn’t mean you should avoid eating pickles when their raw counterparts are in season. That would be too draconian. In fact, the other key part of The Preservation Kitchen revolves around cooking with pickles to add acidic accents to food. Sometimes you don’t want to put up seven pint jars of vegetables just to use half a cup for a single recipe.
That’s when quick pickling comes in handy. Unlike shelf-stable pickles, a quick pickle doesn’t need to be processed in a water bath. Simply pour hot brine over the vegetables, let the vegetables cool, and then store them in the refrigerator for at least a few hours or up to a couple of weeks.
Andrea Nguyen riffs on Prez Kitchen’s pickled snow peas in a quick snow pea pickle recipe with a subtle Indian accent. Andrea makes the excellent point that pickling vegetables quickly is common in Asian cooking. When I worked for Hiro Sone at his restaurant Terra, we made a quick Japanese-style pickle– cucumber half moons soaked in a mixture of rice wine and sugar–every day. Hiro preferred the texture and taste of freshly made pickles for a hamachi dish.
Last weekend, I cooked a few recipes from the cookbook for my family. I wanted to do the panzanella salad with grilled skirt steak, but I didn’t have pickled fennel needed for the salad and the vinaigrette. I also wanted to prepare the grilled zucchini salad, but it called for pickled summer squash, which I also lacked. So I improvised, and the results worked fine.
For anyone who likes the idea of cooking with pickles but doesn’t have the time or inclination to rig up a water bath and find matching jars and lids, quick pickles are the way to go. I’m going to use them all summer.
Quick Fennel Pickles
Try these with grilled sausage or stir them into a vinaigrette. (For the vinaigrette, stir together 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/8 cup pickling liquid, 1 pinch salt, a squeeze of lemon, 2 teaspoons minced shallot, and 1/4 cup chopped pickled fennel.)
Makes about 3 cups
2 1/2 cups sliced fennel (6 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds or fennel pollen
a pinch of dried chile flakes
1 1/2 cup white wine vinegar, such as Champagne
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar, or more to taste
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Pack the fennel into a quart jar or another heatproof container. Add the coriander, fennel, and chile flakes.
2. In a pot bring the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt to a boil. Simmer until the sugar is disolved, about 1 minute. Pour over the fennel and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours before using.
Quick Zucchini Pickles
Eat these with grilled zucchini and fresh herbs or as a condiment beside grilled chicken.
Makes about 4 cups
1 pound zucchini
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup white or red wine vinegar
2/3 cup water
1/8 cup sugar, or more to taste
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1. Slice the zucchini crosswise into thin rounds. Mix the zucchini with salt, transfer to a colander, and let the zucchini drain for a half hour. Pat dry and pack into a quart jar.
2. In a pot, bring the vinegar, water, sugar, curry powder, and paprika to a boil. Simmer until the sugar has dissolved, about 1 minute, then pour over the zucchini and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours before using.