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The power of pickles

  • Pickled onions are easy and fast to make. They are a great condiment for many things. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Corn relish made by Gizmo's Pickled Plus, of Braintree, Vt., dresses up a corn tortilla with tomatoes , beans and avocado. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/23/2019 10:00:15 PM
Modified: 7/23/2019 10:00:12 PM

After 19 years of peddling them at farmers markets around the region, Verne DuClos knows plenty about pickles. He can tell you what to pair with a spicy dill, how to serve a pickled fiddlehead and why the tongue pickle (named for its shape, not its contents) was a staple on Vermont farms of years gone by.

One question he can’t answer is why pickles are so popular these days.

“I have no idea,” said DuClos, of Braintree, Vt., handing out samples of Gizmo’s Pickles at the Lebanon Farmers Market last Thursday.

It’s not hard to see why business is brisk at the Gizmo’s Pickled Plus booth. DuClos, who started growing and selling produce after he lost his factory job 19 years ago, then stumbled into pickles one day when he had a glut of green beans, isn’t shy about promoting his products.

But the pickle trend is bigger than Colburn Park. Nationally, pickles are pretty prominent of late. The pickle market in America was valued at $5.6 billion in 2015 and is projected to reach $6.7 billion by 2020, according to a 2016 report by the market research company Technavio. Foodies and analysts attribute the pickle’s popularity to a renewed interest in its health benefits, its appeal to localvores and its membership in the ranks of the intensely flavored foods finding their way into more and more shopping baskets.

Whatever the reason, here in the height of summer, pickles are the answer to many questions. And thanks to the wonders of refrigeration, making them doesn’t need to be a fussy process. Bear in mind that pickling is not the same as fermenting, which confers the gut-bacteria benefits many people are seeking these days. But, to state the obvious, pickles are vegetables, and the vinegar used in most pickle recipes has health benefits of its own.

Here are three ways to serve pickles without breaking a sweat.

Easy: Middle Eastern pickled turnips

Vinegar pickling is a super easy way to preserve bounty from your own garden or the local farm stand, no canning required. These gorgeous turnip pickles celebrate the history of the condiment, which originated in Mesopotamia sometime around 2030 B.C. Tuck them in pita bread alongside some falafel or slow-cooked chicken, or use them to accent a condiment tray. From dinnerthendessert.com.

Ingredients

3 cups water

1/3 cup Kosher salt

2 bay leaves

1 cup white vinegar

2 pounds turnips, cut into ½ inch thick batons

1 small beet, cut into ½ inch thick batons

2 cloves garlic, chopped

Steps

In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, dissolved Kosher salt in water, along with bay leaf. Let cool completely. Add vinegar. Place turnips and beets in a large container with a tight-fitting lid. Pour liquid mixture over vegetables. Add garlic. Let sit for five days. For best flavor, refrigerate before serving. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Easier: Pickled red onions

If you’re looking for something different to dress up a traditional burger or sandwich, look no further than pickled red onions. These little beauties take about five minutes to make and another 30 to chill before joining just about any dish in need of a little zing. Many recipes for pickled onions call for vinegar, but this one uses fresh lemon juice instead.

Ingredients

1 red onion

½ cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup warm water

1½ teaspoons salt

Steps

Slice onions as thinly as possible and place in a glass jar. Dissolve salt in warm water and add lemon juice. Pour the mixture over the onions and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving. Store in refrigerator for up to a week.

Easiest: Corn relish

When even the smallest amount of food prep feels overwhelming — hello, summer heat — let pre-made pickles play a starring role in dinner. Since you don’t have to make the pickles, you can throw this whole meal together in a few minutes. This recipe features corn relish from Gizmo’s Pickled Plus, along with a just a few other basic ingredients.

Tostadas with corn relish

Ingredients:

6 corn tortillas

1 jar corn relish

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 avocado, diced

1 cup cheddar cheese (optional)

Steps:

Fry each tortilla in a little bit of oil, about 30 seconds per side. Scatter each tortilla with a scoop of corn relish, a scoop of black beans, a small handful of avocado and a small handful of cheese. Substitute or add other favorite ingredients such as fresh cilantro and tomatoes as desired.

Sarah Earle can be reached at searle@vnews.com or 603-727-3268.




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