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My Republic for a Pickle

from the LA Times

CALIFORNIA COOK

Pickles add punch to summertime meals

Pickled bites 

By Russ Parsons, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, Photograph by Richard Hartog

 

WHERE have all the pickles gone?

It wasn’t so long ago that every well-dressed American dinner table was bejeweled with an assortment of them — emerald green tomatoes, ruby red beets and opalescent pearl onions, as well as less glamorous (though certainly no less delicious) okra, mushrooms and watermelon rind. The pickle tray was a standard part of a Sunday supper.

Nowadays, almost the only pickle you’ll find is cucumber. And while there’s nothing wrong with your basic bread-and-butter, half-sour or dill, there are so many other possibilities to explore.

What about radishes, for example, pickled pink, with a refreshing sweet-tart bite to match their crisp texture? Or tangy peppers, yellow turmeric-stained zucchini or even surprisingly savory pickled grapes?

First, a little definition: A pickle is a fruit or a vegetable that is preserved through acidity. Because most harmful bacteria have a hard time surviving in a low-pH environment, pickling was an important part of preserving the harvest in the days before refrigeration.

THOUGH ordinary, white distilled vinegar can be used for most pickles, you can get a different effect by substituting apple cider or Asian rice vinegar. Similarly, don’t feel bound to the common pickling spices of mustard, peppercorns, dill and their brethren. Try using cloves, allspice or cinnamon, fresh ginger or dried chiles.

[ click to continue reading about pickles at the Los Angeles Times ]

Posted on July 24, 2008 by Editor

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