I love pickles. I ate so many pickles when I was pregnant with P. that I was afraid he was marinating-- in utero-- in brine rather than amniotic fluid. I still dream about a jar of Amish pickled green tomatoes that B. brought me back from Philly's Reading market. (I polished the whole thing off in about 2 days.) High time to explore the wide wonderful world of preserved vegetables...
Last night I made red onion pickles from a recipe posted on Orangette (originally based on a Zuni Cafe recipe). Lots of steps, but easy ones and relaxing in a repetitive, mindless kind of way. They smelled up the house a bit, but we opened the windows and ran the exhaust fan, so there were no lingering vinegary fumes this morning.
The pickles are a lovely hot pink color. I like the idea of making some pickled carrots and combining the two on a plate for a hot pink/bright orange color combo that would be pretty. They look especially nice in the turquoise Mason jars that P. gave me once.
The flavor is unusually complex for a pickle--- it's sweet, tart, smoky, hot/spicy, peppery. The vinegar is not the first thing you taste, but just heightens the mouth-watering sharpness.
The recipe says these pickles are super-versatile--- good on grilled meats, cheeses (esp. goat or cheddar), and straight-up on a cracker. It also says they're best after marinating together with the brine in the jar for about 48 hours, so I'm trying to restrain myself from eating them all before they reach their peak flavor.
Still I'm going to go out on a limb and based on my preliminary tastings, give the verdict: 9 out of 10. An excellent introductory pickling experience and a terrific addition to the refrigerator condiment crowd.