College Kitchen: Quick pickle

Kitchen techniques, or survival skills?

Cecilia Mazumdar Stanger

After the supply of stale crackers and canned meat dwindles, coming across a cellar filled with preserved vegetables is a godsend in your typical post-apocalyptic narrative.

Likewise, preserved vegetables can brighten up meals during those dystopian collegiate months when a trip to the grocery store sounds like climbing Mount Everest.  

Boasting most of the fiber and some of the vitamins contained in fresh vegetables, preserved fare renders winter less dreary.

With the aid of refrigeration, home pickling is far from daunting.

 

Pickled Pink

 

When your sandwich is lacking that “je ne sais quoi” element, a quick stovetop pickle works to brighten up lunch meat. In fact, adding a little acid to bland food tends to enhance pleasant flavors and make for complex dishes.

 

2 cups water

1 cucumber (sliced)

1 small red onion (sliced)

1/2 cup vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon crushed coriander seed

2 crushed cloves garlic

 

1.     Simmer the ingredients in a pot until the cucumbers are slightly translucent but remain crisp (5-10 minutes).

2.     Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature before pouring the pickles and liquid into an airtight container and refrigerating.

 

Fermented Veggies

 

The digestive benefit of naturally fermented veggies —which are preserved without the aid of vinegar — is a buzzing topic in the field of nutrition. Regardless of whether these foods have magic health powers, fermenting your own vegetables is a lesson in culinary science that produces delicious results.

When working with preserved foods, be extra sanitary with hands, tools and surfaces.

Using spicy ingredients, like jalapeños, affects the flavor of all the vegetables, so be mindful of your tolerance to heat in choosing produce.

 

8 cups sliced, mixed fresh vegetables (cauliflower, carrots, bell pepper, sweet onion, jalapeños, celery)

2 cloves crushed garlic

2-3 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon coriander seed

Distilled water

 

1.     In a large bowl, toss the vegetables with spices and salt. Taste a slice — it should be slightly saltier than you would normally eat.

2.     Press the vegetables into clean mason jars (there should be very little space between slices) and fill with enough water to completely cover them, leaving half an inch of airspace between the waterline and the mouth of the container.

3.     Place a clean weight in the jars (a stone, or other heavy object) to keep the vegetables submerged in the liquid. Lid the containers.

4.     Ferment the vegetables in a cool, dark place for seven days, “burping” the jars (letting out the gas that forms during the fermentation process) every two days. Refrigerate the containers after the week is finished. You will not need to burp them again.