5@5 - Reasons to pickle and preserve
March 29th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Now that spring is upon us, produce is both good and plenty.

But, as the old adage goes, "all good things must come to an end." (The name's Downer. Debbie Downer.)

That's when Aaron Deal's pickling recipes come in handy.

29-year-old Aaron Deal is a former James Beard Awards "Rising Star" semifinalist and executive chef of the soon-to-open River & Rail Restaurant in Roanoke, Virgina.

Five Reasons to Pickle and Preserve Fruits and Vegetables: Aaron Deal

1. Extend the season
"How often do you reminisce about that tomato from last summer or the cherries that hadn’t tasted that sweet since you could last remember?  I like to pickle or preserve produce during the peak of the season to add garnishes and exciting elements to dishes for the rest of the season and after.

Here's a tip: Never pick vegetables or fruits after a rain for pickling or preserving. The water content will change the flavor character."

2. Change the flavor and texture
"The Korean kimchi process is one of my favorite ways to preserve ingredients. Made mostly with Napa cabbage, red chili peppers and fish sauce, any vegetable can take on a distinct flavor characteristic and texture through this preserving process. I like to use fresh Virginia ramps (in season now) instead of cabbage or other vegetables for that sweet onion and garlic flavor."

3. Make it a hobby
"There are infinite combinations of vegetables, fruits, spices and vinegars that can be used to make pickles, conserves, chutneys and relishes.  Mix them up and try all different combinations.  I recommend trying many different combinations and techniques to achieve different results.  If you start running out of space, friends and neighbors will always appreciate your work."

4. Healthy and flavorful
"Some jam, jelly and chutney recipes do call for additional sugar; however, using the ripest fruit in season can help cut back on the addition of simple sugars to the process.  Fresh apples, blueberries, strawberries and peaches can sometimes be canned without any additional sugar at all.  Try adding a little Piccalilli relish (recipe below) to a cheese plate or your favorite sandwich to add a new dimension of flavor."

5. Don’t forget the juice
"Not only does the addition of pickled or preserved vegetables make a dish distinctive, the pickling juice can be used as well.  Use the juice from pickled fruits and vegetables in vinaigrette dressings, seasonal cocktails and marinades.  Or chase that bad whiskey shot with it."

The Virginia Tickler Cucumber Quick Pickle


  • 10 cucumbers, quartered lengthwise
  • 2.5 liters water
  • 2.5 liters white wine vinegar
  • 2.5 liters rice wine vinegar
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp fennel seed
  • 2 Tbsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 Tbsp black peppercorn
  • 3 garlic heads, halved
  • 1.5 oz ginger
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 5 cloves
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp mustard powder
  • 2 oz fresh dill
  • 1 1/4 cups kosher salt

Cooking Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients except cucumbers and bring to a boil. Let cool to room temperature and pour over cucumbers in non-reactive storage container.
  2. Store refrigerated a minimum of 3 days before serving. Store refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.

Piccalilli Relish
Piccalilli is a form of spicy relish similar to chow-chow


  • 3 green cabbage, cored
  • 24 green tomatoes
  • 24 green cucumbers
  • 12 yellow onions
  • 3 quarts celery
  • 4 red bell peppers, seeded
  • 6 green bell peppers, seeded
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 quarts apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard seed
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper, ground
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, ground

Cooking Directions

  1. Chop all vegetables into two-inch pieces.
  2. Process all vegetables through a meat grinder with a large die or a food processor until finely chopped.
  3. Once processed, mix in kosher salt with vegetables, letting mixture stand for 2 hours.
  4. Combine remaining ingredients and vegetable mixture in large pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until liquid has reduced by two-thirds. Remove mixture from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  5. Fill and process in jars according to a canning process recipe.

Tomato Butter


  • 1 gallon tomatoes, peeled and seeded (meatier variety preferred)
  • 2 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/2 pint apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, ground
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp kosher salt

Cooking Directions

  1. Purée tomatoes and combine with all ingredients in sauce pot.
  2. Slowly simmer until mixture has thickened, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Remove from heat and carefully transfer mixture into sterilized jars, discarding bay leaves.
  4. Process according to canning technique being used. Store.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Bite • Dishes • Make • Pickles • Pickles • Recipes • Staples • Think

soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. encinomomcom

    Just in time for summer! I'm going to try that Piccalilli Relish on some hot dogs. . . .

    April 3, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  2. Liebster Welpe

    Picked myself last night. I like getting pickled on tequilla,

    April 2, 2012 at 7:41 am |
  3. AndyL

    Surely that first recipe is for 10 POUNDS of cucumbers, not 10 cucumbers. Or maybe 10 kilos (22 lbs), since everything else is metric.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:48 am |
  4. Alex

    whatever.. too much work

    March 31, 2012 at 1:46 am |

    Sorry, but there is no FISH SAUCE used in the preparation of Korean "KIM CHEE"... must be an "AMERICAN" thing?

    March 31, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • grace

      Yes. There is fish sauce in kimchi. Ingerdients although varried by family are as follows:

      cabbage – or any green
      red pepper flakes
      fish sauce
      flour/water base
      sometimes oysters

      March 31, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  6. Been over there, done that

    "... for that sweet onion and garlic flavor."... Have you ever tasted real honest-to-goodness kimchi Sport? It's great, but only at certain times and with certain dishes. It hardly qualifies as a "sweet onion and garlic flavor".

    March 30, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • RTFP

      He was referring to the juice created by putting Virginia Ramps through the Kimchi process.

      March 30, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Observer

      He is saying that the ramps have a sweet onion and garlic flavor. He is not talking about honest-to-goodness kimchi.

      March 30, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • What?

      Never had pickled ramps, but raw – there's nothing "sweet" about them. Ramps have to be the strongest "onion-like" vegetable out there.

      March 30, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  7. Jim Hawk III

    Unfortunately, 1 regular dill pickle carries about 1180mg of sodium in it. That's over 50% of your suggested allowance for the day if you're in the United States, or over 66% percent if you're in Canada or over the age of 50 anywhere.

    Even 1 spear is 305mg, which is pushing the limits (particularly in Canada).

    March 30, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • RedinAustin

      Wow, way to be a Debbie Downer.

      March 30, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Mike

      That's kind of the point of doing it yourself, isn't it? You get to control how much salt goes into what you're making.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  8. jellybean

    awesome eyes.

    March 30, 2012 at 8:18 am |

      Looks kinda "PICKLED" to me!!!

      March 31, 2012 at 12:23 am |
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