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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Confessions of a Cooking Fanatic: Pickling party

Elizabeth reflects on the legacy of a crowning culinary achievement.

Confessions of a Cooking Fanatic

Graphic by Rachel Wong

Anyone who knew me sophomore year is aware of perhaps my greatest moment as a resident assistant: the pickling party. And yes, it was exactly as it sounds. Using my (rather limited) RA budget, I decided that the best use of this was to invite the four Wren Hall suites I was responsible for to a party where we pickled anything they requested.

I sent out the invitation, walked to Stop & Shop to collect everyone’s requested produce as well as several gallons of white vinegar and ordered glass jars. And on a Tuesday night, we took over the Wren kitchen and pickled onions, radishes, cucumbers, carrots, garlic, ginger, jalapeños and even store-bought pickles. These were all along the lines of “quick pickling.”

How to quick pickle:

Cut up your desired produce and place it in a heat-safe jar. Pour in vinegar until the glass is about one-third full and fill the rest of the jar with water. Pour out the liquid into a small pot and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, pour the water and vinegar solution back into the glass jar. Place the jar in a refrigerator for about a week.

Note: Pickling as a means of long-term food preservation is a lot more serious, and I am genuinely not qualified to provide instructions, nor do I want to be responsible for a breakout of botulism.

But the above serves as a general outline for the process of pickling. Then there is the fun part: adding in a bay leaf, mustard seeds, some chili flakes; pairing aromatics with vegetables, like garlic and carrots or cucumbers and jalapenos; swapping out the white vinegar for rice vinegar; or adding sugar or salt.

Now that you have these pickles, what can they be used for?

  1. Toast toppings

Back in my Wren days, I would top my toast (made in my very legal, very fire-safe toaster that definitely never caused food to catch fire) with something creamy (ricotta, hummus, avocado) and pickled vegetables. Some combination of the crunch of the toast, the coolness of the dip and the sour bite of the pickled vegetables motivated me to make breakfast during that stressful spring semester.

  1. Banh mi sandwiches

I made banh mi for my house this past week for the primary purpose of spending some time improving my knife skills while chopping up vegetables to pickle. In sandwich form, the bread is slathered with a sriracha vegan mayo, layered with tofu and piled high with as many pickled veggies as I could fit without falling out. I was impressed by how the ginger brightened the tofu marinade in the Love and Lemons version.

  1. Black bean soup

A classic soup to warm up to during the winter months, I’d argue that a black bean soup only gets better when you add the contrast of crumbled corn chips for texture and pickled onions for acidity.