I have a new rule when dining out: If there’s an appetizer of assorted housemade pickles on the menu, I’m getting it. My love for the briny bites runs deep, and I love to see the different pickling techniques, presentations, and produce that each new spot offers. While you can never go wrong with the classics, my newfound dining rule has introduced me to my new favorite treat: pickled fruit. The mix of sweet, salty, and tart is a flavor bomb that everyone should experience. It’s easy to pickle fruit at home, and the results have a multitude of uses.
We’ve sung the praises of pickling before, a process that can take as little or as much time as you like. This ode to quick pickling is a great (and easy) place to start, offering a great basic brine recipe. We’ve shared it again below.
Courtesy of Paul Virant
- 3 cups vinegar (use white wine or champagne vinegar, or you can also use the cheap white stuff, which is “sharpest”)
- 1½ cups water
- ½ cup sugar or honey
- 4 Tbsp. salt
Combine in saucepan and heat until boiling. Place your washed and sliced fruit in a canning jar and add spices (more on those below). Pour the brine in, then let the jar cool to room temperature. Put the lid on and keep it in the fridge all day or overnight.
The spices are where you can mix things up from your typical vegetal pickle flavors—dill, fennel, coriander seeds—to better suit a fruity assortment. For example, this recipe for pickled clementines adds sliced ginger and star anise into the mix. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different vinegars either. Balsamic can be an especially bold choice if you want to amp up a cheese board (check out our recipe for balsamic pickled grapes here).
Pickled fruit can be a perfectly delectable snack all its own, whether you’re adding it to a charcuterie board with prosciutto and cheese, packing some for a picnic, or just popping a few pieces in your mouth on the way out the door. But once you learn how to pickle, you’ll want to use your bold new creations in everything. Here are a few suggestions:
- Liven up your sandwiches and salads. Bringing lunch to the office from home doesn’t have to be boring, and putting slices of jazzed-up fruit in your sweet and savory sandwiches or on top of your salad instantly makes things more interesting.
- Chop it up for a fruity relish. We love a homemade condiment, and pickled fruit relish is a handy one to keep around. A pickled mango relish would pair nicely with some fish, an apple cider vinegar concoction is the perfect addition to a pork chop, and if you’re feeling adventurous you can try just about any flavor on your next hot dog.
- Mix it in with your fruit salads and desserts. Pickled fruit and unpickled fruit can live in harmony. A pickled blueberry alongside a chunk of fresh watermelon can be a delightful treat, and some balsamic pickled strawberries atop a banana split is absolutely sublime.
- Use the brine for a cocktail with a pickled fruit garnish. Just as pickling brine adds a different taste to the fruit, the flavor of the fruit also gets infused in the brine. Before dumping the contents of your pickling jar, consider adding it to cocktails the same way you’d use different flavored syrups. And save some of the pickled fruit itself to slide onto the rim of your cocktail. The extra punch of flavor will pull it all together.
For more pickle-spiration, adopt my pickle-at-every-restaurant rule while dining out. You might be surprised by what’s already being pickled beneath your very nose.