I keep threatening to pickle things. Ok, everything. Plums, blackberries, okra, mushrooms, orange peel, cherry tomatoes, you name it; I will threaten to pickle it. I recently told someone I wanted to pickle corn because I couldn’t bare to part with the delicious taste of summer that has been the guest star in almost every single meal I’ve eaten in the last couple of weeks. And when I say threaten, I really mean it…in the sense that I really, really want to but have been too scared and nervous to take the pickling plunge. So when I wandered into work one glorious summer day to ﬁnd Kevin West’s Saving the Season: A Cook’s Guide to Home Canning, Pickling and Preserving on my desk, it was a sign: no time like the present! Oh, and have I mentioned that if there’s one thing I love more than pickled everything, it’s sriracha? No? Well it’s true.
Lucky for me, Saving the Season had a recipe for sriracha pickled eggs; double lucky for me it was simple and the perfect recipe to begin my pickling adventures. The recipe called for ﬁve ingredients: eggs, sriracha, bay leaf, salt and vinegar. Boil the eggs, mix the spices and vinegar, put in mason jar…and pickle. Couldn’t be easier. I cut the recipe in half (as much as I would love to boast the fact that I ate a dozen sriracha laced pickled eggs in one month, I think that’s one admission I don’t need to share with the entire internet); making half a dozen eggs. After two days of “pickling” in my fridge, the eggs were perfectly pickly in ﬂavor, with a kick of heat and garlicky goodness from the sriracha. What made them diﬀerent from a hard-boiled egg with a squirt of sriracha? They have that distinctive vinegar pickle taste and the whites almost snap back at you, as a pickled cucumber would.
The simplicity of the recipe was deﬁnitely appealing but the tips that were slipped in there with the step-by-step process were incredibly useful. West calls for the eggs to be plunged into an ice bath once they’ve been boiled and drained, slightly crack them and let them sit in the cold water for ﬁve minutes. This simple little tip made peeling the eggs so easy and is a tip I will use next time I hard boil eggs.
My pickling fears behind me, I was able to peruse the rest of the book; I was inspired by the beautiful pictures of fresh seasonal vegetables, anecdotes about preserving, and images of rustic mason jars brimming with spicy brines. Recipes like Nasturtium Salsa Verde, Tomato Broth, Fennel Relish, and Pickled Asparagus with Tarragon and Green Garlic called out to me with their promise of seasonal deliciousness throughout the year.
Although many of the recipes are a bit complicated and the majority requires a boiling-water bath (which requires a special rack in the bottom of your pot), West opens the book with a list of “essential equipment” and “useful equipment” for pickling, how to use them and why they are needed. He also oﬀers canning basics, covering things like prepping and sealing your jars and how to store them. West goes on to explore pickle basics, opening the section with the etymology of the word pickle and covering vinegars, spice, ﬂavor and texture. He almost seems to say, once you’ve got the basics down, you can pickle anything, whether the recipe is in this cookbook or not. If you are a newbie to pickling, this section of the book is a must read and was eye opening for a rookie like myself.
Now that I have been thrown headlong into pickling with Kevin West’s Saving the Season, I look forward to using this book as a reference for all things canned, pickled and preserved. With everything from the most basic of recipes to recipes combining a myriad of ﬂavors and produce, this is certainly a book for ever-passionate preserver to have on hand.