At least on the bitsy speck of coastline that is my backyard, Earl is not a hurricane; it’s a welcome shower.
These brined fruits and vegetables are not pickles; they’re crisp, piquant tastes that wake up just about anything beside them, and they’re as easy to make as Earl is not to notice.
Waiting for a hurricane, I adapted David Chang’s recipe for quick pickled vegetables using simply what needed to be used up in my refrigerator. Afterall, this was emergency dining, right? Certainly I’d be cooking by lamplight soon.
Broccolini, cauliflower, and carrots from the farmers market trip a week ago got chopped. Fresh cayenne peppers from my garden I snipped into the brine with a tablespoon of Indian spices – unlabeled but I believe it was whole garum masala – that had been rattling in my spice drawer.
I put together the broccolini, the cauliflower and carrots, but had some leftover brine. I looked around my kitchen. (Outside, the air was still; a half-hearted rain was barely beading on my window screens.) I was primed – I would have pickled anything in my path. Peaches?
I put the tea kettle on.
I scalded the peaches, removed the skin, and reheated the leftover brine. By dinner time – in an hour – we had delicious grilled fish with each of these sweet, salty pickles on the plate beside it. Each type – the broccoli, the cauliflower, the peaches – was only 3/4 of its orginal taste as they were already, in the short time they had been pickles, transformed into a crisp fresh-tasting condiment.
My version was spicy enough to add interest to meal eaten on a drizzly, windless evening empty of hurricanes.
Very Quick Vegetable Pickles
6 cups water
1 1/2 cups rice vinegar (not seasoned; 12 fluid ounces)
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt
whole aromatic spices such as coriander, fennel, even just red pepper flakes or whole pepper corns.
Chop the vegetables – or fruits, pears would be wonderful – you choose into smallish bite-size pieces.
Meanwhile, bring water, vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil in a large nonreactive saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and pour hot brine over your vegetables/fruits to cover. If you have leftover brine, you could save it and make more pickles another day. Just reheat the brine so it’s hot when you pour it over the vegetables.
Cool to room temperature, stirring and pressing vegetables down occasionally (or keep them submerged with a small plate). Transfer each vegetable with pickling liquid to a separate airtight container and chill, covered, shaking occasionally, at least 1 week.