The last post to this blog betrays my tendency to purchase more food than we can consume in a reasonable period of time.
It’s not so bad when the item is shelf-stable, at least for a couple of years. But many of us overestimate how often preserved food will keep. In many instances, it isn’t safety that’s called into question but rather quality. Echoing the sentiment of a local Master Food Preserver, why would I eat my 3-year-old canned peaches after we just put up more?
In one small arena, at least, my consumption is keeping pace with preservation. Last year’s quick-pickled peppers, explained in a previous post, are nearly gone. A lone habanero chili is biding its time in a jar of vinegar until the next batch of nachos. Waiting in the wings are some Italian sweet peppers that I pickled a few days ago. The only reason they weren’t roasted and frozen is because I have yet to use last year’s frozen stash. Sigh!
Also consigned to the quick-pickle fate this week were lemon cucumbers and radishes. Refrigerator storage aside, the free-form nature of quick pickling is suited to almost any combination of vegetables, as a recent article in the Miami Herald pointed out.
The following recipe from writer Linda Cicero specifies cucumber, bell pepper, radish and carrots. But she also recommends jicama, golden beets, turnips, carrots and celery, even zucchini and other types of squash. See a previous post to this blog for my favorite pickled zucchini recipe. Cicero cites McCormick.com.
Then add your pickled veggies to charcuterie plates and relish trays, burgers and bratwursts. Chop them up to mix into chicken, tuna or egg salad. Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, in particular, are traditional repositories of pickled veggies.
While Cicero gives these a refrigerator shelf life of two weeks when stored in a nonreactive container, I find that quick-pickled veggies actually keep much longer and can even improve in flavor. You be the judge of their quality.
Asian-Style Pickled Vegetables
1 large seedless or English cucumber, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips (about 2 cups)
1 cup thinly sliced radishes or daikon (Asian white radish)
1/2 cup julienne-cut carrots
2 tablespoons mixed pickling spice
2 cups sugar
2 cups rice vinegar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
In a large, glass bowl, mix the vegetables. Set aside. Place the pickling spice in center of a piece of cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Tie tightly with string. Place in a medium saucepan with the sugar, vinegar and salt. Bring to boil on medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 5 minutes.
Pour hot liquid and pickling spice bundle over vegetables. Cover. Refrigerate vegetables. Stir once a day for 1 to 2 days to blend flavors before serving. Makes 20 servings.