The Power of Pickling

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Written by :  Ben Cole, Lead Line Cook @ Native Coffee + Kitchen

Growing up in New England with a passion for food, I quickly learned to appreciate the abundance of local produce in the warmer months.  As a chef, it is inspiring and refreshing when the deliveries from local farms begin in the spring.  Our walk-in coolers are filled with vibrant colors and we can infuse these fresh flavors into our menu.

A common saying in New England is if you don't like the weather, wait a minute. The climate and changing seasons require cooking techniques to use the bountiful harvest without waste.  A great option is to whip up a few gallons of brine and fill the mason jars to preserve the ingredients.

Pickling is an age old technique (est. 2030 BC) to hold on to our hard earned harvests.  To preserve fresh ingredients for use during the colder months allows a chef to keep interesting flavors on the menu year-round.  A common misconception is that pickling is only for creating sour pickles using cucumbers.  In reality, the technique can be applied to a variety of ingredients and has infinite amount of possibilities.  One of my first experiments with pickling involved daikon radish.  With only a limited breadth of knowledge, the result was so pungent that it couldn't even be served on the menu.  Thankfully, I had the pleasure of learning from a person who was passionate about pickling.  He knew how to control sourness and incorporate aromatics.  After many late night conversations about fermentation, brining recipes, ingredients, and storage options, I started my own journey experimenting with pickling.  I discovered the importance of ratio, time, and heat.  In order to save cash on food, I was quick pickling food scraps like watermelon rinds and purple cauliflower.  Eventually, even the infamous pickled daikon was making customers smile.

The many late nights and hours of practice allowed me to truly appreciated the versatility of this technique.  Cutting up vegetables and locking them away in meticulously flavored brines, carrying forward the fresh and flavorful seasonal ingredients.  At Native, we are all about local and seasonal ingredients combined with sustainable cooking methods.  We pickle cukes, carrots, daikon, kale, chard, beets, green beans, and peppers.  Although the pickling options are endless, we are still proud to offer those good old sour pickles on our Native Burger.