Arguably the most iconic pickle—the cucumber—is as summery as a lifeguard in a red bathing suit with a sunscreen-slathered nose. Many of our other favorites are similar in their season. Say, asparagus. Or watermelon rinds. Even blueberries.
We tend to put spring and summer produce on a pedestal (I mean, how could we not?), so we pickle those ingredients to savor them all year long. But winter produce deserves to be missed, too. Cold-season vegetables are heartier and sturdier. In other words, perfectly suited for boiling-hot, vinegary brine. In the face of adversity, beets, apples, and friends stay crunchy and vibrant.
Here are some pickles to make now, before cucumbers and watermelons steal the spotlight again. Then, come spring, you can have a picnic in the park, open a jar, and remember how much you miss winter! Or, you know, just enjoy some pickles.
How to play around: Instead of red beets, try golden ones, or turnips. Instead of potatoes, go for rutabagas or parsnips. Instead of ginger, turmeric.
Are preserved lemons really pickles? Totally. They’re just pickled differently. Instead of being soaked in a vinegar brine—the speedier way—lemons are fermented with salt, which yields a natural, acidic brine. And don’t limit yourself to lemons. Try limes or navel or blood oranges.
Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.