What’s the Dilly, Yo?

curried pickles

One thing I remember about the fridge in my parents’ old house, aside from having to constantly refill the ice trays: there was always KoolAid and Sweet Tea. Which is why we had to constantly refill the ice trays. Also, I blame my incredible sugar urges on those two things. I can’t tell you how many times my lips, teeth, and tongue were stained blue and red from the KoolAid. Just like I can’t tell you how many cups upon cups of sugar went into that tea pitcher. I just know it was a hellah-lot. Shoot, sometimes we’d just take a ziploc bag of sugar and mix in the KoolAid flavor powder and stick our fingers in the bag and lick every. last. drop. out. Remember lick-a-maid? Sorta like that, without that fancy sugar stick. But fingers worked well too.

before pickling liquidafter pickling liquid

Another fridge memory: in the door, there were always pickles. Mt Olive pickles – I think we were obligated to buy those since Mt Olive, North Carolina was only an hour or so away. Secretly though (and don’t tell anybody), I’m a bigger fan of Vlasic pickles because they’re so juicy and crunchy. Or maybe those huge sour ones they’d serve at the Skating Rink in my hometown. They’d make killer profits on them because they’d freeze the actual pickle juice and sell “Pickle Sickles” for 10 cents a pop. I think I ate at least 3 or 4 every Friday night, between speed skating to Supersonic & Pump Up the Jam, of course. Between those things and the rabbit’s foot amulets, of which I had one in every color, I can imagine their business may have suffered a bit when I left town.

We never really buy pickles at our house, since we try to limit the super salty foods we keep around. But I’m afraid I may have opened Pandora’s box here, people. I never hopped on the pickling train, but I did read many a blog post about it and have been constantly tempted. A page in Food & Wine magazine finally sealed the ‘dill’, if you will. That and some pickled apricots I had over the weekend.

cucumberscurry spices and ginger

Pickling is great for those of us who hate to waste. Although many of my ‘hate to waste’ issues are resolved by freezing, this here pickling thing is going to save the lives of those poor veggies (and fruits) that sometimes, sadly enough, get lost in the crisper. Plus, the make-at-home version lets you control the sodium and add a plethora of fun spices. I’m tellin’ you, this could be the beginning of the end here.

ready to closecurried pickles

Curry Quick Pickles
Adapted from Food & Wine magazine, August 2009; makes 1 quart

This is an awesome little treat. I usually go for sweet after dinner, but lately I’ve had a hard time choosing between ice cream and these darn pickles. Another great aspect of this recipe? You also get to use the rest of the knob of ginger thats been hanging around.

[Timing: 20 minutes plus overnight brining]

Veggie of choice*, 12 oz (I used cucumbers. Baby steps, people..baby steps)
1 1/2 T kosher salt
1/2 T sugar
1/4 c thin matchsticks of fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves
1/2 t curry powder
2/3 c unseasoned rice vinegar (4.3% acidity)
1 c or more water

Pack veggies into a 1 quart glass jar. In another jar or bowl, combine all remaining ingredients except for water. Shake/mix to dissolve salt and sugar. Add 1 cup water and pour brine over veggies. If veggies aren’t submerged, add more water to cover them. Close jars and refrigerate overnight or up to 1 month.

*For some veggies, you’ll need to blanch them (cook briefly in boiling water and then rinse with cold water to stop the cooking): asparagus, carrots, cauliflower, green beens will blanch 1-2 minutes. Cucumbers and broccoli go in as is.

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