Food waste is a significant and worrying problem, and the EPA and the USDA are taking steps to help people manage their food waste. It is also farmer’s market season, and so hopefully you are lucky enough to have a bounty of fresh produce that may not last the week without preservation. Pickling is a great solution to both of these problems. Pickled fruit and vegetables can last for several weeks and provide a tasty, salty sour snack or condiment. You can pickle almost anything, including greens and stems. Bon Appetit has a wonderful recipe for pickled chard stems this month, coming from Hawaiian chef Ed Kenney of Town in Honolulu. Town features locally sourced meat, seafood and organic vegetables, and the chard stem pickles are great example of how to get creative with what you have.
The basics of pickling include a fruit or vegetable that you would like to preserve, an air tight container and a brine. The brine is a mixture of salt, vinegar, sugar and flavorings. Eating Well has some great brine ideas and proportions for you to try. Refrigerated pickles can be ready in 24 hours or stay in your fridge for over a month. The chard stems are a great start, but also try pickling beans, fennel, carrots, beets, peaches, figs or mango. Make it spicy with peppers or garlic, or herbaceous with dill or rosemary.
Pickles can be chopped finely into a sandwich spread or served whole as an appetizer. You can also add them to salads or burgers for an extra punch. Deep frying battered pickles is also popular in certain areas of the country. Serve pickled celery in a Bloody Mary for brunch. You can even eat pickles for dessert by placing pickled fruit over ice cream or mascarpone cheese. How do you like to eat your homemade pickles?