With so many restaurants now doing their own pickling, there's a great opportunity for fruits and vegetables besides cucumbers, onions and carrots to enter the favorite pickle pantheon. We present here five terrific pickles that surely deserve a spot in the nation's culinary mainstream:
1. Pickled green tomatoes.
As a kid, I once sent away for a bucket of pickled green tomatoes, a purchase that didn't exactly please my parents. Vinegary green tomatoes are shockingly sour, yet retain the snap of just-plucked freshness. I could go for a bucket right now.
2. Pickled watermelon.
While pickled watermelon rind's a fairly standard item on Southern and Eastern European relish trays, it's less common to find the flesh of the fruit pickled. I came across pickled watermelon at an international supermarket in Atlanta this summer; labeled "magic pickles," the salty watermelon was weirdly gelatinous. And wonderful.
3. Spicy pickled eggs.
Pickled eggs, teetering on the cusp of rubbery, are a common convenience store snack throughout the Southeast. But they're even better (and beer-friendlier) when they're submerged in brine spiked with jalapeno and Serrano peppers, a recipe strongly associated with Michigan's upper peninsula. Say yah to da egg, eh?
4. Pickled herring.
Pickled fish remains hugely popular in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Japan, but Americans have been slow to recognize the brilliance of pickling herring in an onion-rich solution of vinegar, sugar and salt. Served in a creamed salad with pumpernickel bread, pickled herring is fabulous.
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5. Pickled radishes.
Radishes are constantly finding themselves in a pickle over in Asia. All sorts of radishes lend themselves to the pickle treatment, which plays up the vegetables's crisp and peppery qualities.