14 April 2014

Pick A Pickle

You know we love us some preserving books.  We foresee a day when we will have more books ABOUT canning that we will have food that we have canned.  Fine! We exaggerate, but you know what we mean. 

People have been pickling vegetables since the invention of a salt and vinegar.  Grab some veggies, pour a hot brine of vinegar over them -- pickles.  It is not really brain surgery, but way more fun, and if you screw up, no one dies or ends up in a vegetative state.  But it is hard to screw up. 

So why another book?  Well, Pick A Pickle is one of those cookbooks that is not merely a cookbook but a kind of art. It is designed like a Pantone swatchbook. The recipes fan out of their carrying case to reveal a wide variety of recipes.  You have seen designers huddled over their swatchbooks finding just the right color, well we like to think of cooks sitting around pouring over exactly which pickle they will be making. 

Those cooks are in good hands as the chef behind Pick A Pickle is Hugh Acheson, who wrote one of our fave cookbooks of 2011 (and still), A Turn In The South.  Yes, there are recipes in the book that you have seen a billion times: Pickled Jalapeños, Pickled Okra, Pickled Watermelon Rind, and Pickled Beets and so on. But the true test of a good pickle book is this:  Does the author pickle something you never thought of pickling before?  So, alongside those old familiars, Acheson gives us his usual unusual turn in the South.

Are you one of those cooks who cuts out the nice bits of veggies and tosses the rest into the compost?  You will never do that again after this recipe

Pickled Turnip Stems

4 cups small turnip stems
2 garlic cloves
1 sprig fresh thyme
3⁄4 tablespoon pickling salt
1 tablespoon white granulated sugar
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
3⁄4 cup cider vinegar
3⁄4 cup water

Cut the turnip stems into 1⁄4-inch lengths. Pack the stems, garlic, and thyme into the jars, leaving 1⁄2 inch of headspace at the top, and set aside.

Combine the salt, sugar, mustard seeds, vinegar, and water in a nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.

Carefully ladle the hot pickling liquid into the jars, leaving 1⁄2 inch of headspace in each. Cap with lids and bands, cool for 2 hours, and then either refrigerate or process according to the jar manufacturer’s directions.

The pickles can be refrigerated for 7 to 10 days; if processed, they will keep for up to 10 months.

Yes, Pick A Pickle it is a Hugh Acheson book, but we would like to give a big shout out to Rinne Allen who photographed it and Danielle Deschenes who designed this culinary swatchbook.  Now get out there and get yourself in a pickle.

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