In a Pickle

“Are you gonna eat that?”

There’s always a pickle.  For where two or three are gathered together in delis of any name, there is a pickle in the midst of them.

And for some reason, there is always a pickle lover, and a pickle disdainer.

In our family, I’m a lover.

There is a bar-restaurant in Durham called Alley 26.  One of the reasons why I love it so much is they have wonderful, interesting small plates.  They have something called Butter & Salt, which is literally salted butter, a few radish slices, and some sliced French bread.  It’s the perfect example of treating simple ingredients with respect and in doing so, elevating the dish.

One of their dishes is a pickle plate.  It’s five or six different pickled items.  They do the pickling in house, so they’re fresh, delicious, and unusual.  My two favorites are cherries and pineapple.

The pineapple is pickled with jalapeño but there’s no heat.  You just get the super fruity flavor of the chile, which is the perfect foil to the sweet acid of the pineapple.  I was drinking rum, so I forgot to ask about the recipe, so I offer you my best approximation of the dish.    

Last summer, a friend gave me some green tomatoes.  I fried them, but he kept giving them to me, so I decided to pickle some.  I’d never pickled anything before, but I thought, “What the hey!”.

They turned out bright and sour and garlicky.  And to me, the best part was how gorgeous they were in the jar.  I kept looking at them thinking, “I made that!”

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.

Pickled Green Tomatoes

These pickles come from the website Garden Betty. 

1 pound green slicing tomatoes (or 1 & 1/2 pounds green cherry tomatoes)

2 teaspoons dill seeds

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 bay leaf

4 garlic cloves, peeled

Cut larger (slicing) tomatoes into 1/2-inch wedges, and cut smaller (cherry or grape) tomatoes in half.

Brine

1 cup white distilled vinegar (5% acidity)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon kosher salt

In a small saucepan, bring all of the brine ingredients to a boil and stir until the salt is dissolved. Remove the brine from heat.

Fill a hot, clean quart jar with the pickling spice mix of your choice. Pack the jar tightly with the tomatoes.

Pour the hot brine over the tomatoes, covering them completely and leaving 1/2 inch headspace.

Stick a chopstick or “bubbling” tool into the jar and move it around to release any trapped air bubbles.

Wipe the rim clean, seal with a lid and band, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Jalapeño Pickled Pineapple

1 pineapple, cut into bite-size chunks, don’t use the hard rind part

3 cups apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

½ teaspoon pink peppercorns

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 jalapeño

2 quart jars

Prepare the jalapeño

Cut the top and end off the jalapeño.  Cut it in half length-wise and cut each piece in half again, so that you have four long strips.  Discard all the seeds.  Carefully, using a paring knife, shave off all the vein, so that all you have left is bright green flesh.

Place the vinegar, sugar, lime juice, peppercorns and kosher salt into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir until sugar dissolves.

Put half of the pineapple into each jar.  Place two strips of jalapeño in each, sliding them down along the outside of the pineapple, against the glass.

Pour the vinegar mixture over the top of each jar, allow ½ inch headspace. The vinegar should barely cover the fruit.

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