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?
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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.
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.