I recently wrote a post about the expansion of a pantry. There is an amazing little bit of cleverness and strategy that can be found in this endeavor. As a cook it often amazes me how much of my work life influences my choices at home. The life of a chef doesn’t really just stop at the kitchen door. I’ve lately found that I’ve been leaning too hard on the fantastic variety of food options that New York City has to offer. Which can be both wonderful and a little hard on my wallet. And a little tiring. It’s easy to forget the simple pleasure of cooking at home. When I build myself a sandwich I am often struck with the realization that I truly enjoy the process, as well as the results.
When I do manage to pull out the cutting board and a few slices of bread at home I love having a variety of vegetables to use. Unfortunately I don’t do this often enough or for enough people to justify keeping a lot of fresh ones that will spoil due to my neglect. To balance this, I’ve started keeping pickled vegetables on hand in my pantry or fridge. Most often I cook for myself, and the vegetables I would buy for healthier meals were going bad before I could use them all. This way I can keep a larger variety of veggies and flavors on hand without waste. Right now there are pickled jalapeños and pickled red onions in ball jars in my fridge. This weekend I plan to add rainbow carrots and beets, maybe radishes and whatever still looks good at the green market. My coworker recently made some pretty amazing pickled ginger at work. He added mustard seeds, black peppercorn, a little salt, and chili flakes to the mix. Were keeping a pretty awesome variety of vegetables from the summer around using this method.
There are a lot of great pickling recipes out there. My favorite is equal parts champagne vinegar, water and sugar.
1 cup Water
1 cup Champagne Vinegar (or any vinegar you prefer)
1 cup sugar
You can also add whatever spices you might like, and reduce the amount of sugar to your liking. I personally love the balance of bitter, sweet, and spicy that this ratio makes the jalapeños, and the pickled red onions (P.R.O.s) are a staple at my current restaurant and at Bouchon when I was there. I may make a batch of slightly less sweet peppers the next time.
To prepare: Bring all ingredients to a boil. For very thin/small vegetables like julienned onion or thin sliced pepper, simply pour hot liquid over the vegetables. Weigh down with a plate or cover with a cloth to ensure the liquid covers all of the vegetables. Let cool at room temperature. Refrigerate.
For larger, whole, or more fibrous vegetables, such as ginger, beets, carrots, or pearl onions, you will want to blanch them first.
And that’s where big pot blanching comes in. Check the link below for tips on that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPGke_I7hpk
Feel free to ask me any questions about pickled veg.