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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Pucker Up

Pucker your puckerholes people because this post is percolating pickle porn presently.

After this latest sauerkraut extravaganza, I got bit by the DIY/Martha Stewart (pre-conviction) bug in a big way and decided to go pickle ker-razy!! Thankfully I stopped at eggs, since I was headed in the direction of pickled meat, and nothing says "a pronounced and painful paralytic passing from botulism-packing pickles" better than a gung-ho first attempt at corned beef.

However...corned beef: still in the pickle picture. Don't know when, but keep your peepers posted on the presently passed away page in the paper.

Right now, it's safer for me to start with basic veggie pickles and so I bought a few things at the farmer's market and went to town. Those things were baby zucchini, baby patty pan squash, small green tomatoes, cauliflower florets, garlic, some hot peppers, and white Thai eggplants.

After washing these and grabbing the jar I would store them in, I mixed up the vinegar/brine mixture and covered them, leaving them to sit for a couple of weeks. With all the stuff in the air in San Francisco, God knows what cultures my pickles picked up. As multi-cultural as San Francisco is, there could be anything from a privileged, persnickety prima donna from Pac Heights to a pert and perky Persian ex-patriot painter from Potrero Hill pushing it's way into my pickle jar.

And don't even get me started on San Francisco's well known and flamboyant strain of Homofermentative lactobacilli that parades up and down these city streets at ungodly hours of the day and night.

After a week of cultural bombardment, the pickles were ready to eat. However, I let them go a week longer to sour a just little bit more. The first week, the brine became cloudy after a few days. Sometime after the first week, it began to clear up a little.

It wasn't as smelly as the sauerkraut, but it did have a lovely sour smell to it. That's joy of fermenting vegetables – the smell. It's not quite as lovely as a ripe epoisse, though it's not as bland as some of the big-name jarred pickles.

When they were ready, I simply covered the jar with a lid and stuck them in the fridge. This slowed down the fermentation process, but didn't stop it completely. As the days passed, the pickles pucker power progressed from pleasantly puckering to positively puckalicious – so much so that a few packed a punch.

Ok, this is getting old.

Anyway, these pickles have really helped quench my hunger pangs, especially late at night. The only pickles I wasn't fully satisfied with were the tomatoes (too acidic) and the eggplants (too seedy and tough). Eventually I began to reach the bottom of the pickle jar, so I transferred them to a smaller jar.

Hmmm...what to do with all of that leftover, tasty, cold, sour pickle juice?? Well, I've been drinking it.

It's not that bad, and if you like salt lassis, then homemade pickle juice is just one more step in that direction. In fact, you could call it the gateway drug to harder substances.

Like Pickled Eggs.

I remember once being in a true dive bar and seeing a huge jar of pickled eggs on the counter. My only problem is that, because my memory is so fuzzy, I'm not sure where this was, how old I was, or whether I was in a bar or convenience store. What I do remember, however, was the innate feeling of dire circumstances that would happen if I so much as stepped near that jar of eggs floating in that not-so-hygienic-looking liquid.

It's funny how humans have evolved to avoid danger by sight and perception alone. However, sometimes things that look suspect are actually good. Like, who decided to go all crazy and eat the first mold-ripened blue cheese?

Basically, I think that when humans first learned how to preserve food, some of them just went hog wild and decided to preserve anything and everything possible.

Like eggs. You know, chickens can keep laying eggs all year long, but nooooo – someone had to go out and throw some in vinegar just to see how long they'd keep. Thus, pickled eggs.

I found a recipe for pickled eggs in the book "The Joy of Pickling" by Linda Ziedrich. This book has other good recipes that I'm using, such as the mixed pickle one I used above and a fermented dill pickle recipe I'm using for pickling cucumbers. It's easy to read and I highly recommend buying it at your local, independent bookstore or checking it out at the library.

I love the golden color of these eggs and the taste is awesome. They're slightly sweet and spicy (not spicy-hot, but spicy-spicy...does that make sense?) with a vinegary tang to them, which makes them perfect snacks for when I come home hungry and need something immediately satisfying.

To make them, simply hard-boil some eggs, boil the pickling liquid, pour the liquid over the eggs, and let sit in your refrigerator for at least a week. Easy, huh?

Like the sauerkraut and the mixed pickles, they'll be hard to resist once they're ready to eat. These also would make great hors d'oeuvres – sort of deviled eggs with a twist. Of course, that's taking into account that your guests like pickled eggs.

Don't worry if they don't, because we can always pickle if we want to and we can leave your guests behind.

Cause your guests don't eat pickles and if they don't eat pickles, well they're no guests of mine.



Blogger Anita said...

The alliteration cracked me up!

I'm pretty sure that chickens don't really lay eggs all year long unless they're in factory-type situations -- they become a lot less prolific when fall rolls around. So pickling eggs probably did evolve as a way to keep extra eggs edible for the times when they were less plentiful.

7:47 AM  
Anonymous Sean said...

Holy cats -- the color of those things! I have to admit I've never been particularly tempted by pickled eggs, until now.

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Mark Huffaker said...

Puckalicious? Kevin! You've gone over the edge on pickling! I am VERY proud of my Dill Pickles, and know many who like all kinds of pickled goods, but as beautiful as your grey eggs were, I'm sticking with pickled cucumbers. Maybe that's why they call me the boring cousin. Great story to read.......congrats on all your food research. Congrats on getting "DIVE" up and running again. I've just too much of my morning catching up on your busy life. Now I'm hungry for Chinese Food and a Beeps Burger (with Pickles, of course).

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Milo said...

Whenever I think of pickled eggs, all I can think of is the scene from Suburbia where Flea (from the Red Hot Chili Peppers) dumps a blue slushie into a jar of pickled eggs and says "Happy Easter, Asshole". Nice blog, BTW.


5:01 PM  
Blogger Freudian Slip said...

Pickled eggs are the best! This reminds me of my childhood, and my grandmother's cooking :)
I wonder if my wife could make these, I would love to have them again.

11:44 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Mmmmm that makes me hungry for red beet eggs (aka pickled beet eggs).

Nothing like a pickled egg sprinkled with a little fine salt.

Looks like I'll be going to the store soon.

4:21 PM  

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