I have an endearing habit of labeling things. (Or at least, I think it’s endearing, you may find it annoying, in which case, I would label you no-fun-at-all). One of the things I like to label is seasons. It was the spring of my…., it was the summer of my…. It works well, except for that disastrous, “the summer of cleaning out my garage”, which did not (and probably, will not) come to pass.
This summer must be labeled, “the summer of pickles”. I have completely rediscovered and fallen in love with pickling things. It’s the perfect antidote to the bags of summer produce picked up from my CSA. Slice the veggies, make a pickling solution, put both in a jar, and it keeps for months in your fridge. Perfect. And did you know, that you can reuse pickling solution? I reused a jar about 4 times, until the cucumber slices stopped tasting pickle-y and started just tasting like cucumbers.
My latest discovery is the Zuni Cafe Pickles, which I found online here. I didn’t have any zucchini, so I substituted yellow squash. These were wonderful. They are bright, sunny yellow, with a flavor reminiscent of sweet gherkins. Sweet gherkins, only better, minus that weird chemical flavor that store bought gherkins can sometimes have. There are 2 jars sitting in my fridge, and I plan on always having a jar of these in my fridge!
Zuni Cafe Pickles
Adapted from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Compendium of Recipes and Cooking Lessons from San Francisco’s Beloved Restaurant
1 pound zucchini (I used yellow squash)
1 small yellow onion (I omitted)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed yellow and/or brown mustard seeds
Scant 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
Wash and trim the zucchini, then slice them one-sixteenth-inch thick; a mandoline works best. Slice the onion very thin as well. Combine the zucchini and onions in a large but shallow nonreactive bowl, add the salt and toss to distribute. Add a few ice cubes and cold water to cover, then stir to dissolve the salt. Alternatively, transfer the salted zucchini and onion slices to a Japanese pickle maker and screw down the top; do not add any water or ice cubes.
After about 1 hour, taste and feel a piece of zucchini — it should be slightly softened. Drain and pat dry.
Combine the vinegar, sugar, dry mustard, mustard seeds and turmeric in a small saucepan and simmer for 3 minutes. Set aside until just warm to the touch. (If the brine is too hot, it will cook the vegetables and make the pickles soft instead of crisp.)
Return the zucchini to a dry bowl and pour over the cooled brine. Stir to distribute the spices. Transfer the pickle to jars, preferably ones that have “shoulders” to hold the zucchini and onions beneath the surface of the brine. Seal tightly and refrigerate for at least a day before serving to allow the flavors to mellow and permeate the zucchini, turning them a brilliant chartreuse color.