As the more low-key cousin of fermenting, pickling is a faster, easier way to make good use of summer’s abundant produce. Adding pickled vegetables to appetizer platters and entrees will be an appealing menu addition, especially for craft-movement-conscious diners. And everyone will love the distinctive taste.
Wondering how to begin? Try quick-pickling red onions as a start. Not only do they add a welcome pop of crunch and color to any plate, but they’re already a known and loved ingredient. By starting with the familiar, you’ll help diners bridge their knowledge gap and begin to appreciate pickled veggies in their own right.
Best of all, pickled items are a low-cost item with a high perceived value. Pickling is a good way to make use of less-then-perfect or over-abundant produce, helping you reduce food waste and boost your bottom line. Even sweet fruit can get the pickling treatment, including apples, crab apples, cherries, peaches, pears and plums. Get even more mileage from pickling by reserving the brining liquid to replace vinegar for tangy sauces or as the curing liquid for ceviche.
Use pickled vegetables as colorful garnishes for sandwiches or salads (both topped with Marzetti dressings and sauces, of course). And nothing adds the right note of sharp, acidic flavor to balance fatty dishes like burgers and charcuterie plates.
If you’re looking for inspiration, check out some of the new pickled vegetables being sold by Preservation & co., whose products are hand-crafted and hand-packed in Sacramento, California. The company sells pickled jars of Balsamic Beets, Cayenne Carrot Sticks, Habanero Cucumber Chips, Hefeweizen Bread & Butter Chips and Hickory Brussels Sprouts. Food & Wine magazine offers up recipes that include Grilled Pickled Carrots with Chermoula and Almonds, Turnip Kimchi, Superfast Salt-and-Sugar Pickles, Overnight Fennel and Jicama Pickles with Orange, Mustard-Miso Pickles and Pickled Cherry Tomatoes with Fennel.