You know that feeling when you open the fridge, and there is "nothing" there? Or do you want one last thing to complete a meal, but are not sure what it could be?
Homemade pickles are the answer. They are also the answer to a garden crop that seems to have matured all at once or make the most of the seasonal bounty in your local farmers market.
It's profoundly satisfying, it's cheap, and it can be much quicker than you might think. Some quick pickles – pickled onions are a classic – they can be ready to eat in about an hour. But deliciously, some quick pickles could last for months, even a year.
Pickling is a weekly ritual at Acre, a farm-to-table restaurant in the heart of Sydney at Camperdown Commons, an area that also includes the farms of Pocket City, where a former bowling alley has been transformed into a social enterprise of 1200 square meters vegetable garden
Every Tuesday, Acre Ludo Gendre's chef and his team collect a couple of products; some pickles will appear on the menu the following week, after which they will have had some time to ripen, while other lots will keep the excess products to be used further along the track. Most are vinegar pickles, while some are fermented, such as the spicy chili sauce that the kitchen was preparing this week, or the kimchi matches made to preserve a range of garden vegetables.
And that's the really great thing about pickling – that you've never picked up in your life or that you're regularly trying to broaden your horizons, there's a pickle for you.
"There are as many recipes as there are people who decapitate," says Gendre. "It's just a matter of your taste and what you like, it's really not a golden rule, so I really like my pickle, but I know that others like it very well."
"At the PCF we are a team of four and we love eating and preparing pickles and ferments," explains Pocket City Farms community coordinator, Madison Roland-Evans.
"Pickling is a skill that we should all have – if you are looking to live a life closer to the seasons, the opportunity to conserve abundance during the summer will take you in the winter! Buy seasonal products it tastes tremendously better, and while there's a lot of things, it could even take off. "
Pocket City Farms sells products in several cafes and restaurants in central west Sydney, and also organizes workshops: keep an eye on their website for details of a quick pickle lesson they are planning to hold in December.
The almost instant rapid pickle
"An easy pickle is a gherkin, and it's one of the fastest because it's over a couple of weeks," says Gendre, who grew up in a village on the west coast of France, and arrived in Australia 13 years ago.
"In France the main pickles are cornichons – so the gherkins, really … So we did a little bit of that when I was a kid and we also had the samphire – the sea herbs – that we put very much in brine because I was close to sea.
"We had a large garden that is practically more or less the same size as the one here and then everything was done at home, I do not remember going to a supermarket to buy any vegetables, ever."
Give the gherkin and cucumber a go-go cucumber with this recipe for garlic and pickles with whole cucumbers (these are the best after a few days in the fridge, and will remain for a few weeks if chilled); prepare crisp pickles with a bain-marie method of bread and butter (these will last up to a year, but may start to lose their crunch after six months); or for a faster sliced cucumber pickle, try this flavored dill and caraway version, ready to eat in a few hours. Or play the changes with the miso cucumbers, where the cucumber pieces are cured briefly with a miso, rice vinegar, mini, sake and garlic paste.
If you want a pickle in one day, Gendre suggests you onions. "It's practically an instant decapitation, after a couple of hours it's over, or you can keep it for much longer, but the taste you get after a couple of hours is great."
Try it with this pickle of red onion and lime juice, which takes only 5-10 minutes of work and can be served in half an hour; this red pickle of red wine vinegar and small onion; or this apple cider vinegar, red onion, cumin and bay leaf version. Everyone uses sliced onions for a quick result; if you're looking for a recipe for whole pickled onions, try these sweet and sour onions, which will be ready to crack and crunch in about two weeks.
Use all the parts and parts
Kitchen pickles are not only one of the easiest pickles to prepare, quick to do and without sterilizing jars, but a great way to consume any vegetables left in the fridge at the end of the week or to turn cauliflower, red beet, broccoli or stalks of cabbage in something delicious. It takes only about 15 minutes of time for the hands, and then about 20 minutes of cooking time, before you can break them in the fridge. They will last for a couple of weeks.
This Italian gardeners is another great way to consume small amounts of different vegetables and is ready to eat in a few days.
Fermented pickles with fermented casings
"The fermentation process preserves the ingredients, making them safe to eat for weeks, months or in some cases years beyond their fresh state," writes the pioneer of fermentation Holly Davis in his excellent book, Ferment.
"This is a huge advantage if you live without refrigeration, but in this day and age to worry about fermenting foods? Variety, complex flavors and consistency or to preserve an excess of seasonal products may all be a sufficient reason, but there are other benefits "says Davis, pointing to the possible role of our intestinal bacteria in weight regulation, our immune system, digestion and nutrient absorption from the food we eat.
Dr Michael Mosley is another fan of traditionally fermented foods.
"For good intestinal health, and to acquire a range of useful bacteria, fermented foods are an excellent way to advance," says Mosley of an experiment he and Dr. Saleyha Ahsan in Trust me, I'm a doctor, comparing probiotic supplements and fermented foods.
Try this simple recipe of sauerkraut from Gourmet Farmer Matthew Evans, or Holly Davis's red cabbage, arame and ginger kraut.
Kimchi is not just for cabbage
More commonly we see the traditional condiment of Korea made with cabbage, but as Michel Roux discovers when he visits The Ethicurean in episode 3 of Hidden restaurants (Wednesday, September 26 at 3:45 pm on SBS and then on SBS On Demand), kimchi is a full-flavored way to store all kinds of garden vegetables.
The Ethicureo is a restaurant in a former shed, surrounded by gardens, where the main goal is to use what they have, and cook with the seasons – so much so that, in fact, the menu changes twice a day . To give them more options in winter, plenty of spring and summer abundance is pickled or fermented, and is one of the things the restaurant is famous for.
When they have more lettuce than necessary for salads, for example, it is stored in jars, including a lettuce Kim who has Roux and Matthew Pennington of The Ethicurean who try to keep a serious face for the camera, pretending not to try pain, after trying a particularly fiery example.
It is a technique that Gendre also uses in Acre.
"We can use just about anything for kimchi," he says. "Cabbage, lots of greens … Outside the garden we sometimes have a choy and pak choy guy, so we can use that … and the lettuce, all the greens."
Add a touch of kimchi with this traditional kimchi of cabbage; this multi-vegetable version, made with cabbage, radish, shallot, leek, onion and mustard; this daikon kimchi; or this carrot kimchi.
Pickles are not always crisp and biting
The infinite variations possible with pickles are not only determined by what they produce in season. "Sometimes we want pickles, sometimes we want very, very high-quality pickles," says Gendre. The different styles adapt to different dishes.
"Sometimes we added a little bit of sugar to our pickling liquid, a bit more than usual," he says. "For example, when we make the capsicum, it is already quite sweet, and we add a little sugar to it, because we use it with our nduja [a spreadable pork salami], which is very very spicy, so it needs a little sweet to balance the dish. "
The pickling liquid is a base that everyone can do by himself – add more or less sugar, use different types of vinegar, add extras like onion or herbs.
"There are as many recipes as there are people who beheaded." In fact, it is the same basis, but some people prefer malt vinegar, some people prefer white vinegar, some people prefer vinegar. apple cider. … You can add garlic, you can add pieces of onion, a little bit of sugar. "
Try different levels of sweetness with recipes like Dutch Atjar ceramics, a sweet and sour pickle made from cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chilies, ginger and turmeric; pickled cherries with sweet spices; or red grapes in brine.
And here's how to keep them
Some quick pickles are made for the refrigerator and are best consumed within a week or two, but many pickles will last up to a year. Let yourself be guided by what the recipe says, but if you've bottled a pantry pickle made to last for months or even a year or two, the important thing is to store it in a cool, dark place.
"The light will change color and even those that are good to eat, they simply will not seem like you want to eat them," says Gendre.
Given their appearance and taste, we suspect that most pickles will be consumed long before their expiration date! Create different types, with different vegetables and pickling liquids, and you'll have great options to add that "something right" to all kinds of dishes, from buddha bowls to appetizer plates.
Find out more about The Ethicurian and the passion of its conservation team Hidden restaurants with Michel Roux Jr Wednesday, September 26th at 9:45 pm on SBS, then via SBS On Demand. For more pickling inspiration, see the SBS Food pickle recipe collection.