When it comes to cooking, there’s never a shortage of new tricks to discover or techniques to be learned. Since eating well and living well go hand in hand, we’re always keeping our eyes open for low-maintenance ways to accomplish the former. Jay Bartholomew, a Schoolhouse friend and dedicated home cook has mastered more than few ways to create incredibly flavorful meals with simple upgrades. Here he breaks down one of his favorite go-to methods for adding a punch of flavor to a variety of foods: The Quickle.
How-To: The Art of the Quickle
Making your own pickled vegetables might sound like a daunting multi-day process, but it's actually quite easy. Pickling is a method of preserving food that just so happens to be oh-so-delicious. While there are indeed more complex ways to pickle such as fermenting, a quick pickle or 'quickle' is very straightforward. A simple combination of acid in the form of vinegar, salt, sugar, and good ol' water are all it takes to make a tasty brine. The acid, salt, and sugar are such strong preservatives that your pickles will last indefinitely in the fridge. They'll taste best the next day and slowly lose their crisp texture over time.
All you need to get started are enough vegetables to fill a jar and a brine to pour over, but add-ins like herbs, aromatics, and whole spices can add a nice touch. Dill and mustard seeds are great with the classic pickle. Or try more exotic spices like star anise or cloves. If you toast whole spices in a hot dry pan for a couple minutes you can bring out more of their flavor.
When most people hear the word 'pickle' they picture cucumber, but you can buy pretty decent cucumber pickles almost anywhere. Zucchini makes a great alternative because you can use it in the same applications, but it packs a bigger punch flavor-wise. My favorite thing to pickle at home is red onions and I make sure I always have a jar in my fridge. These are the bright pink kind you find at your favorite taco truck. The heat and acid turn them a vibrant hue of pink that almost looks artificial. They're not just great on tacos; you can put them in salads, serve them with beef, or just enjoy them on a board with some good cheese.
The following is a basic technique for my pickled red onions with jalapeños that can easily be altered to suit your own tastes. You can control how sour, salty, or sweet your brine is by adjusting the amount of vinegar, salt, or sugar, respectively. Then get creative with different vegetables, vinegars, and add-ins! My favorite vinegars for pickling are champagne, apple cider, and rice.
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 large red onion, sliced thinly pole-to-pole
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, toasted
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds, toasted
1. Pour vinegar, water, sugar, and salt into a small pot and bring to a boil.
2. Put enough onion in a jar to fill it most of the way and add the jalapeno, peppercorns, and coriander seeds, then top it off with more onion until it's full. You want a jar that you can tightly pack and fill to the top.
3. Pour the hot brine over the vegetables until they are completely covered. Use small glass or some paper towels to ensure everything is fully submerged.
4. Let cool for 30 minutes then seal and refrigerate.
Recipe by Jay Bartholomew