|An ode to Portlandia and the ability to pickle... well anything - Illustration by Wasabi Prime|
If that doesn't inspire you to pickle everything that isn't nailed to the floor, I don't know what will! Even though the skit is likely considered stale by internet meme/pop culture status, it was running in my mind when I really did take on that mentality of pickling... well, everything. I was a repeat offender and bought fruit from Costco, speficially lemons, thinking I'd use them all for some lemony-themed dishes. I went through a lion's share, don't get me wrong, but they don't sell lion's share-sizes at Costco, more like Jupiter's Great Red Spot-sized bags of produce. I got down to my last three or four yellow citrus footballs right before I had to leave town. I knew they wouldn't keep and the Mister wouldn't use them, but then the voices of Bryce and Lisa came into my head. We can pickle that. So I did. It's not so odd to salt and preserve lemons. I remember my dad pickling lemons, which we did every year when we used to live in Arizona. We had a big beautiful lemon tree that gave us grocery bags' full of marvelous scurvy-killing citrus. Granted, it's not something you'd bite a big hunk off, but my dad and I are sour fiends! I'd put fresh lemon juice in my cola, the sun tea was probably more lemon than tea, and with all the extras, my dad would shove into these huge glass jars, cover them with salt, and just let the Southwest sun do its worst. The salt would prevent anything from growing in there, while the lemons just melted and collapsted in the heat, weeping its precious liquid that mixed with the salt into a proper brine. They literally deflated and looked more like sad, flat football skins, but they were salty-sour amazing. My dad would slice them up into thin slivers and just eat them, basically like pickles. They made your face squinch up into all sorts of unattractive ways, but boy were they good and the acidity eating away our teeth probably made us look like meth addicts.
|Red onions, lemons -- why yes, we CAN pickle that! - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
I was struck with the same pre-vacation conundrum and CSA delivery pressure with a red onion and a random cucumber. I love red onions and I didn't want to waste it by using it like a regular white onion, buried in a stew or pot of chili, so I thought of one of my favorite places, Boat Street Cafe in Seattle. They make their own pickles, including one with red onion and it's a-ma-zing. My red onion pickle was nowhere near as good as theirs, but I was thinking of them when I brewed up an ad hoc brine of white vinegar, sugar, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, peppercorns, mustard seeds and coriander seeds. Why those ingredients? I had them handy and they sounded good together. I sliced up the onion, shoved them into multiple jars and poured the brine over everything and capped them all tight before getting them refrigerated. True pickles shouldn't need refrigeration but since mine were quickie pickling without strict sterilization methods, I didn't want to risk anything. When in doubt, fridge it. So far, so good, no one's gone blind and the red onions have been great with salads and as a sour relish on meat. I did a similar brine with the lone cucumber. The skin was so thick and it wasn't as tender as a nice English cucumber, so pickling seemed the decent thing to do. For that brine, I used rice vinegar, sugar, coriander and pepper flakes, so that it was more of an Asian-inspired pickle.
|Pickled. And no, I don't mean my liver - Photo by Wasabi Prime|