The Daily Brine

So you’re in a (dill) pickle. You love the bright and briney flavor of the classic, crunchy condiment, but don’t know how to incorporate it into any dish other than Chicago-style dogs and ballpark burgers. We’re right there with you! We just can’t get enough gherkins. But there’s so much more to pickled and preserved food than cucumbers. You can pickle nearly anything growing in the garden—carrots, beets, radishes and even peaches! The acidity entices us so, we’ve found all kinds of uses for these pickled vegetables.

What is “pickling” all about?

Pickling is a centuries-old preservation practice. Submerging veggies in a brine (heavily salted water) or in an acidic liquid (vinegar or citrus juice) not only preserves and transforms them, but also imbues them with a sharp, pleasant tang.

Add them to cheese and charcuterie boards!

Cheese boards are the perfect start to a holiday party, casual gathering or in-office meeting. It’s an art to put together an attractive charcuterie board with the perfect balance of tastes and textures. We always start ours with the bare necessities—a variety of hard and soft cheeses, a smattering of housemade crackers and breads, and a selection of salty slices of cured meat. To counteract all that savory goodness, we add a bowl of dried fruit, typically something small that’s easy for guests to grab just a piece or two. Finally, our finishing touch is a small bowl or two of a pickled vegetable of our choosing. Cornichons are the traditional choice, but we’ve been known to opt for pickled radishes and quick-pickled red onion, too. This element is a must-have because the tangy bite of the acidic pickle cuts through the rich fat of the cheese, ultimately improving the tasting experience for guests.

Mix into poké bowls!

Poké bowls are all the rage. “Poké” is a Hawaiian word that translates literally to “chunk.” It refers to the chunks of fish (typically salmon) that constitutes as the star of the dish. Our take on poké features a base layer of sticky rice, as well as edamame, fresh mango bites and—drumroll, please—pickled ginger! Pickled ginger has become a staple in Japanese sushi meals, as it’s an excellent companion for fish. As a palate cleanser, it allows us a deeper, clearer fish tasting experience the flavors of the fish. Pickled ginger, paired with a jasmine tea, is also a great post-meal palate cleanser.

Top fresh salads!

Nearly all of the food trends of the last couple of years or so seem to scream, “Health is wealth!” and we’re totally on board. Everyone knows a big, colorful salad does wonders for us, but did you also know that adding fermented pickled foods to salads makes them even more wholesome? Fermentation is a type of pickling wherein a particular kind of lactic bacteria (a live culture) is the source of the food transformation, not the acid or pickling liquid itself. Fermented foods are all the rage, as they’re purported to increase the probiotic bacteria in our stomachs, promoting gut health. Sauerkraut, for example, is fermented pickled cabbage. Not only is it good for us, but the zing of the kraut adds that deep, much-sought-after umami flavor to the salad.