Every time I’ve gone to pickle, I end up making jam. The jars are out and the intention is there, but the lack of time (aka, patience) prevents the follow-through and I end up filling the jars with raspberry jam, not pickled cucumbers. Because, let's face it, I’m Gen Y and far too accustomed to everything being instantaneous (I say with a mouthful of jam).
Usually the intention to pickle comes from walking through a deli or grocer and staring at the wall filled with polished jars of all the shades of pickles; my competitiveness gets the better of me and I find myself wanting a pickle wall of my own. Cucumbers are bought for pickling, but I quickly find myself realizing my inability to house even a small picklery in my tiny unit—not to mention how long I'd have to wait to reap the benefits. All this results in a lack of homemade pickles, a bare, jarless wall of my own, and a sense of inadequacy.
But I’ve solved this pickle! And found a way to make pickles that don’t clutter your shelves and need only a small amount of your time, a sharp knife, and in some cases, a fridge.
Introducing the “quickle,” aka, a quick pickle. The concept was first introduced to me while recipe testing a burger for a fast meal that needed some onion with the onioniness taken out of it, and the puckery pickleness put in. (Trust me, it will make sense later.)
Quickling slaps a big Band-Aid over that nagging pickling inferiority complex that I sometimes feel. And while it has its limitations, the quickle makes you feel like you are #cookingyourbestlife. To me, there is nothing quite like seeing a wafer-thin piece of red onion or cabbage change from deep purple to vibrant pink after a mere touch of acid in a matter of seconds.
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There’s no need for sterilized jars and lids; you can quickle in anything non-reactive. Be it a ceramic bowl, a mug, even in a roasting pan straight out of the oven. I managed to do just this recently: While my roasted cauliflower rested, I quickled some thinly sliced onion, fennel, and whole caraway seeds in the corner of the pan to toss through later.
Here's the key: I thinly slice everything! By thinly slicing or chopping your pickling ingredient very small, you increase the surface area and speed up the pickling process. This is crucial to quickling, and differentiates it from standard pickling.
My top ingredients for quickling would be: all onions, turmeric root, cabbage, green beans, baby cucumbers, and radishes. Then it’s onto making a balanced brine. Enter the Holy Trinity: sour, sweet, and salt. My tried-and-tested ratio is four parts sour (any kind of vinegar and or citrus juice), two parts sweet (any kind of sugar and or honey), and one part salt (flaked sea salt or fine kosher salt), and then you’re ready to get your quickle on.
At this point, it becomes a game of Choose Your Own Adventure:
- Adventure No. 1: Combine brine components in a bowl and add chopped ingredients (here, I sometimes chuck a herb like dill in for that dilly-pickle flavor) for more of a fresh-tasting quickle.
- Adventure No. 2: Place brine ingredients in a saucepan with aromatics (I like to use one or two of either juniper berries, coriander seeds, dill seeds, cloves, or bay leaves) and cook over high heat until salt and sugar have dissolved. Cool the mixture completely, then pour over your veg for a crunchy pickle.
Let the quickles, well, pickle for anything between one to 30 minutes and taste until you’re happy with the level of pickle flavor and texture. Then chill until needed. Pickles should last in an airtight container for two weeks in the fridge.
To save you even more time (yup, it’s possible), I like using leftover brine from pre-bought pickles—yes, I give you permission to grab a jar of quality pickles from that inspiring wall of pickles I mentioned earlier—as literally all the prep has been done for you. Just reheat the prepared brine, and you’re on your way.
Following my ratios, try these quickle hacks out for yourself:
- Salad quickle: I always get my thinly sliced red onions going in a separate bowl with a cold quickle brine of apple cider vinegar and honey before being tossed through the salad leaves and olive oil.
- Grilled seafood quickle: I heat some white wine vinegar, coconut sugar, and mustard seeds in a saucepan and pour the hot mixture over some thinly sliced turmeric. Set it aside for two minutes before serving with grilled butter-brushed prawns and crispy curry leaves alongside.
- My favorite quickle right now: Juniper berries, white vinegar, dill, a dash of gin, and superfine/caster sugar in a saucepan brought to a boil and cooled. Pour over thinly sliced cucumbers. Quickle for five minutes in the fridge, and serve spooned over a side of oven-roasted salmon.
How are you enjoying pickles this summer? Let us know below!