Stretch That Pickle – Secondhand Brining

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In the 1920's, more than 100 independent pickle vendors vied for space in New York's Lower East Side where pickles were a culinary staple. Photo: forward.com

In the 1920's, more than 100 independent pickle vendors vied for space in New York's Lower East Side where pickles were a culinary staple. Photo: forward.com

Be it from a barrel or jar, diner or fair, spicy or dill, half sour or whole – we all love a good pickle, right? According to the New York Food Museum, pickling started way back in 2040BC with ancient Mesopotamians getting their pickle on. Pickles are twice mentioned in the Bible, Cleopatra ate them as part of her beauty routine and Julius Caesar fed them to his troops believing they offered physical and spiritual strength. By the time the early 1600’s rolled around, regular plebes in the States were pickling at home and able to buy them commercially.

On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally’s cellar. – Thomas Jefferson

In the 18th Century, Napoleon, the ambitious little man he was, awarded the first person with $250,000 (that’s like, a zillion dollars back then) to develop a way of preserving the mighty pickle for even longer. What he came up with was the hot water bath – the process of boiling jars so that any of the badness is removed and the lack of air would keep it that way. So think of Napoleon and your common love for pickles the next time you open a jar and the lids pops because that process is still used today.

For the full story, check out the pickle history timeline.

The Modern Day Pickle Movement

A beautiful amalgam of spices, vinegars, salts and herbs are no laughing matter.

A beautiful amalgam of spices, vinegars, salts and herbs are no laughing matter. Photo: manmadediy.com

Zooming into the 21st century, people are getting inventive with their pickling. With culinary adventures home-bound, people are pickling their favorite vegetables in surprising combinations of acids and spices, spurring a whole new pickle movement. And the independent artisanal purveyors are also a major force behind pickle mania. You got to respect the mind that came up with Serrano Beans, Pickled Paprika Okra, or some brazen Kimchi (which by the way is a whoooooole other post for another day). But because of their artisanal nature, you’re going to dig a little deep for these babies.

Stretching Your Pickle During A Recession

We recycle plastics and paper, we donate old clothes and furniture, so why toss out that delicious pickle brine? So whether you dropped a cool $40 on a jar of pickled ramps or five bucks on some spicy curried carrots, in a time of recession, we need to stretch every dollar, even the ones we spend on our sour friends.

Once you’ve worked your way through the pickle jar, you’ll have a yummy brine just waiting to work it’s way into some other fresh veggies. All you got to do is cut your favorite veg and shove them in the jar. If the brine doesn’t completely cover its new roommate, top it off (just check out the ingredients to know whether to add salted water or some vinegar). Give them 2-3 days and you’re on your way back to pickle palace.

Call it a two-fer, three-fer, or however-many-you-can-stretch-fer. There’s a recession folks, but you gotta get your pickle fix. Think of it this way, if you stretch a 20 dollar brine over a year, you’ll only be paying a nickle-a-day for your pickle habit. Not a bad way to wipe away the guilt from paying 20 dollars in the first place!

Give Us Your Pickle Tips

Do you make your own? Do you go vinegar or salt? What vegetables do you use? Impress us all with your pickled glory and tell us who’s pickles we should be copping!

 
  • 2 jars 3 minutes? Is his brain fermented? Although I’m pretty sure I could do 3 jars. Just sayin. I think we should probably do a Kimchi tutorial/inforgraph/interview/fun facts on kimchi kinda article with Skim Kin, dont you think? 

  • Skimkim

    Let me know when you’re ready to do the kimchee post! I’m taking a fermentation break for the next few days, Kimchipalooza has my head reeling…watched a dude inhale 2 jars of it in 3 minutes. We were making Micheladas with the Bloody Kim Jong-il Mix. What???

  • Van

    Smart idea! I’ll have to try this- I live alone and it feels like at least 2-3 veggies go bad with every damn grocery trip. Sick of it!