BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

In a Pickle

44 Comments

“There’s an unusually high amount of bacteria in my kitchen right now,” I cheerfully expressed to a coworker, after explaining what I had been up to earlier in the week. She looked at me with a look of horror, and quickly dropped the subject.

Ever since attending that fateful class on fermentation just over a month ago, the kitchen counter has been looking more like an apothecary shelf than a working surface, lined with half gallon jars filled with all colors and shapes of mysterious, sometimes moldy, mysteries. Enamored by the idea of watching foods morph into new flavors and textures, cultivating and growing something delicious, much like a garden sending out fresh shoots in the spring, I couldn’t start soon enough. Within minutes of walking into the door, I already had a quart of soymilk out, ready to plop a few kefir grains into. Next came the cabbage, to be thinly sliced and turning into sauerkraut, laced with a few slivers of red onion for additional flavor. And while we’re talking cabbage, it only made sense to start up a batch of kimchi as well. Finally, after easing the little square of kombucha mother and its scoobies into a fresh batch of black tea, I was just about ready to sit back and watch things ferment. First, however, I wanted to make a simple batch of cucumber pickles, always a favorite and oh so easy to make. Deceptively easy, really.

That, the most simple and well-known form of fermentation to me, was the only thing this far to go sour, and in a very bad way. I first grew somewhat concerned when a sort of grey peach fuzz developed on the tops of the cucumbers, but very nonchalantly cut off the offending pieces and went on my way. After a few more days in the salty brew, however, when tiny green things began showing up where I was certain I had placed nothing of the sort, it was time to reconsider the project. As much as I hate throwing out food, it’s truly not worth killing yourself over a few moldy pickles.

Fermentation isn’t for everyone- It takes a whole lot of patience, space, and a strong sense of intuition when it comes to either eating or scrapping the often questionable results. While all of my other assorted beverages and vegetables are bubbling along happily, with good bacteria and no disturbing green bits, traditional cucumber pickles are perhaps not in my grasp. Refrigerator pickles, on the other hand, are simple enough for anyone to make, no risks involved.

For those who can’t even think about waiting weeks or months before eating their pickles, this speedy version is for you. Admittedly best after at least a day or two, they’re technically ready to eat after only a few hours. Flavors of all sorts are possible, limited only by the cook’s imagination, but my favorite approach is something slightly Asian-inspired. Miso, ginger, and scallions combine to create a tangy and unusual pickled cucumber, flavorful enough to stand as a condiment to just about anything, or, as I prefer, a little starter or palate cleanser between bites.

Although they may not technically be pickles without being properly fermented, I’m willing to bet that they’re tastier by a landslide in comparison to 90% of those corn syrup-imbued, grey slivers of limp cucumbers you’ll find at the local mega mart.

Miso Pickles

1/4 Cup Barley Miso Paste
1/2 Cup Rice Vinegar
2 Scallions, Thinly Sliced
1/2 Inch Fresh Ginger, Grated
1 Cup Water
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 Pound Pickling Cucumbers, Sliced

Place your miso paste in the bottom of a 1-quart jar or container with an air-tight lid, and add in half of the rice vinegar. Stir to loosen up the miso, until it’s completely dissolved in the liquid, and add the remaining ingredients. Throw on the lid, give it a good shake, and stash it in your fridge for at least 6 hours before eating, and up to 2 weeks.

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah (BitterSweet)

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

44 thoughts on “In a Pickle

  1. I am really excited about trying these out! I will probably use white miso since I happen to have some at home already :)

  2. I share your love for bacteria. I love talking to my sourdough! haha!
    This is a perfect way to use up my family’s garden of cucumbers during the summer! They march in like an army sometimes!
    LOVE.

  3. Sounds delicious. Hope you’ll get the rest of us just as excited about fermenting with your recipes to come!

  4. can I just say that I love your intro paragraph?! adorable. hilarious. carry on…

  5. Well, I love refrigerator pickles and have a great recipe from my mother-in-law but I’ve never had Miso Pickles. I am definitely going to try this with the cucumbers we grow this year. Mmmm. Can hardly wait!

  6. excellent post! i love reading your cooking adventures, and as always, great photo. How is the photography career coming?

  7. I’ve never fermented anything because I don’t feel too confident about walking that fine line between throwing something away because it will probably kill you and eating something because it is probably delicious! I’ll stick to this quick miso pickle version, it looks scrumptious!

  8. I’ve never (yet)done any fermenting myself and knowing my luck I am sure the vegetables would sort of run of my kitchen counter when I would attempt such a thing!

  9. oh how i love fermentation. the process itself, not my own endeavors with it, which have been few. i look forward to trying this!

  10. Interesting recipe, I love cucumbers and I seem to have almost all the ingredients! I’ll try because it must be very very good :)

  11. I’ve just made my own miso (though it’s not barley miso) and this sounds like the perfect way to use it. I’d never have thought to put it in refrigerator pickles like this – great idea!

  12. I love refrigerator pickles because they’re so quick and easy, but I’d have never thought of adding miso! I bet they’re delicious!

    I would love to start fermenting. I love all things fermented, but it seems pretty difficult. Maybe some day…

  13. Oh my, I love pickles, and definitely would fall into the “not wanting to wait” category. Will plead for the kimchi recipe at some point though, as I’ve just discovered a love for it and would like to pretend I might make it one day :P

  14. I am SUPER impatient so the thought of going through the trouble of setting up a pickling or fermentation project only to have it turn out bad…is completely unappealing. These pickles look delicious though! I would have never thought to use miso paste in the pickling juice but it’s a great idea!

  15. Awesome! I have to try this- I love pickles.
    VEGirl

  16. Sorry, I’m gagging at the thought of the mold *blh*

  17. I had success canning pickles last summer, but they’re vacuum sealed, so no risk of creepy bacteria. I’ll make a triple or quadruple batch next summer–they were really good! I love sauerkraut, but I’m scared to make it myself.

  18. Miso pickle? I know that I’d love it! Great idea to keep veggies :-) I will forward this recipe to my mom since she loves pickling…and get them ready from her ;-)

  19. mm tasty homemade pickles without the risk! Count me in :)

  20. Gosh, you must have so much patience to try and make things like that.
    The refrigerator pickles sound great and much easier :)

    Rose

  21. such a great way to get pickles outside of pickle cucumber season.

  22. haha! my mom had a HUGE vat of kombucha growing in our kitchen..it was hard to explain to my friends years ago before it became a popular drink!

  23. Those look like some pickles I can get behind. I’m not usually a fan, but add miso to anything and I’m on board!

  24. I’ve seen the pickling cucumbers at the farmers market but never bought any. Next time I see them, I’m going to try the miso pickles. They sound great! :-)

  25. My hand is up – I willingly admit to not having the requisite patience for making pickles, but I really love eating them!

  26. Yayy for making kimchi : )
    I will definitely try your quick pickles – sound just perfect!
    I wonder why some things ferment very well and others begin to mold. So far I have fermented oats, soymilk, cabbage and a whole lot more and never had any problems. Until about three weeks ago, when my whole batch of kimchi and a cup of raw almonds grew this disgusting fuzziness. Yuck…

  27. This post reminds me so much of my mom…she ALWAYS made these when I was a kid! I can eat a whole jar of pickles by myself – no lie! Will def be making these asap.

  28. Oh goodness, that’s so funny, nonchalantly cutting off the offending part of that veggie…But, hmm, those cucumber-soon-to-be-pickles definitely look appetizing. Like a miso-fied cucumber soup.

  29. These are so beautiful so green and crunchy! I must try.

  30. Thank you Hannah ! I’m not very fond of fermentation because it takes ages ! So I might have a try just to taste how good it is !

  31. You are a brave woman! I am always ultra paranoid about things going bad. I think refrigerator pickles are the way to go for me. :) Good luck with your fermenting!

  32. wow! we had been thinking the same but you got to do it earlier than me! ;)

  33. i made them yesterday and cannot stop eating them. thanks for the delicious recipe!

  34. These sound SO awesome and a HEALTHY way to enjoy pickled foods!! yum!

  35. Ooh, these sound awesome!

  36. This is delight full and Joanne being ur sweetfren too, am inviting u here for her little party(its her birthday dear -i know that u know dear) which is a suprise party for her …do leave her a wish in the sprinkles ok…..my feeds arent working or updating ,so am trying my best to find all her pals to leave her a wish in the sprinkles before she gets there or even after….will ya help too to make it a little sucess….and leave her a wish too?

    http://vanillastrawberryspringfields.blogspot.com/2010/02/joannes-birthday-middle-eastern-chicken.html?showComment

  37. A little bacteria is good for ya. Well… I justify it that way because I’m not a fantastic house keeper (although my kitchen is spotless) and since I rarely get sick, I figure it’s because I expose myself to tiny doses of bacteria on a daily basis keeping the really bad stuff at bay. Make sense? Doesn’t matter ’cause those are some AWSOME looking pickled cukes.

  38. Yummy and simple recipe! Thanks! I share your love for probiotic foods. Can’t get enough of those gut-friendly bacteria. In fact, I’ve written one long article on probiotic foods. Hope you’ll enjoy reading it. Feel free to tell me the other fermented foods you’ve been enjoying too! Thanks!

  39. These sound so tasty and healthy that I wish I could snack on some right now! I was reading through the book Wild Fermentation recently and agree that the topic is quite fascinating, especially with those with a DIY attitude.

  40. I applaud you for your efforts with fermenting different vegetables! I’d be way too chicken.

  41. I really like the sound of these miso pickles!

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