Pickling and fermenting are hot on the minds of chefs nowadays. But long before the days of refrigeration, pickling was a necessary means of preserving seasonal bounty. Recently, it’s become a trendy practice, due in part to the DIY movement and to the touted nutritional benefits of eating fermented foods.
A trip to the local farmers market can yield bushels of inspiration because almost anything can be pickled. Look for fruits or vegetables with firm textures that will hold up to the process. At Little Dom’s in Los Feliz, you’ll find jars of pickles lining the restaurant shelves — pickled green tomatoes to serve on burgers, pickled okra to serve with Bloody Mary’s, spicy bread and butter pickles, mostardas and more.
When the Little Dom’s crew makes their spicy bread and butter pickles, they use 3-inch-long cucumbers that are about an inch in diameter. They prefer cucumbers with tougher skins that will offer satisfying snaps long after they’ve been pickled. Start with a basic brine of salt and ice to draw the moisture out of the cucumbers. The ice is key to keeping your pickles crunchy. After soaking the cucumbers for at least two hours, rinse off the brine and transfer the cucumber rounds to sterilized preserving jars. Then cover them with the hot pickling liquid and process the jars in a pressure canner or a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
In four to six weeks, you’ll have tangy, mouthwatering pickles to add to any dish or savor as a tasty snack.
Little Dom’s Spicy Bread & Butter Pickles
Chef Brandon Boudet says this recipe also works for pickling green tomatoes, which he serves on his burgers.
5 lbs pickling cucumbers, sliced ¼-inch thick
2–3 medium red peppers, sliced paper thin
½ large white onion, sliced paper thin
5 jalapeños, sliced thinly
¾ cup salt
Ice, enough to cover the cucumber slices
Pickling Liquid Ingredients
3 cups apple cider vinegar
2¼ cups water
2¼ cups granulated sugar
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 pinch yellow mustard seeds
1 pinch celery seeds
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 sliced jalapeño (optional)
Preserving jars with lids and bands
Pressure canner or hot water bath
Brine the cucumbers: Combine the sliced cucumbers, red peppers, onion, jalapeños and salt in a bowl and use your hands to make sure the salt is evenly distributed among the ingredients. Then top them off with a layer of ice and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Sterilize the jars: Meanwhile, sterilize the preserving jars, lids and bands (see instructions).
For the pickling liquid: Combine the apple cider vinegar, water, sugar and turmeric in a large pot. Bring the mixture to a boil until all of the sugar has dissolved.
For the pickles: Next, add a pinch of yellow mustard seeds, celery seeds, crushed red pepper flakes and a sliced jalapeño to each preserving jar. Reserve and set aside.
Rinse the brine off the cucumber slices and transfer to jars.
Pour the hot Pickling Liquid into the jars, covering the cucumbers completely. Place the lids over the jars and seal. Process the pickle jars in a pressure canner or hot water bath for 10 minutes. Allow to preserve for at least 4 to 6 weeks for best flavor.