pickling at home! you can do it too! (it is so easy.) great for lunches and snacking. and i promise, no fancy equipment or long hours of labor required.
i bought some crazy beets at the farmer's market recently, they were kind of radish-colored. more deep fuchsia than dark burgundy like they usually are, i had no idea what they would look like inside but they looked fresh and amazing, so home they went with me. the amazing crazy stripes were a wonderful surprise. i really loved them visually, and completely.
but then i am one of those people who loves beets. love the mineral-y dense sweet taste of beets, most any way at all. i usually slow roast them in a 300 degree F oven as per thomas keller and alice waters instructions, with a little water and/or olive oil and a pinch of salt in a tightly covered small dish. once tender (an hour or two depending on size) peel them while still warm, then slice and splash a little apple cider vinegar over them and serve with roast pork tenderloin, or make them into borscht, or save for a salad or later munching. but the weather was marvelous, and the day i made these and called for something light and crisp, a fresh fall taste. enter beet pickles. they cured up so quickly, in just 4 to 6 hours. wonderful. these are based on david chang's vinegar pickle master recipe from his momofuku cookbook, with a small change or two. i did not have 2 pounds of beets so i made half beets and half carrots. and i never have rice wine vinegar on hand so i used half rice vinegar and half white wine vinegar. i really love these quick pickles, so great for snacking, packed lunches and of course with david chang's pork buns, which we also made that day for a large lunch with friends.
3 to 4 medium sized beets, peeled and thinly sliced into half moon shapes
1 cup hot water
1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
6 T sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
(note this makes more pickling brine than you need so i made a pound of carrot pickles at the same time. peel, halve and then quarter the carrots into strips). naturally you could double the amount of beets, but that's a lot of beet pickles, even for me.
place cut and trimmed vegetables into a clean glass container (non reactive), pour liquid over the vegetables. cover and allow to cool. after cooled, refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours and a maximum of a week. they will be, of course, lightly pickled at first, which is nice, or more intensely pickled after several days, but will stay crisp and delicious for a week. i have often heard that these quick pickled vegetables retain most of their vitamins and fiber, more so than other preparation methods. try it!
this same recipe will work for cauliflower. many other vegetables and even fruits lend themselves quite well to pickling. some require different recipes and handling than these, based on density and texture. stay tuned for more on my pickling adventures in future posts. once you get started, it is hard to stop.