Help combat food waste through pickling. Photo courtesy of Yotka fotoaloja via Shutterstock.
It’s no secret that there is a ton of food wasted everyday in kitchens across the country. In fact, in the United States about 30%-40% of the food supply is wasted, equating to over 20 pounds of food per person each month. Worldwide, industrialized nations waste as much food as the entire sub-Saharan Africa produces. Luckily, there are plenty of delicious and simple ways to give back to the environment by reducing your food waste footprint.
Pickling is my favorite way to preserve leftover produce and help limit my contribution to food waste, as it’s easy, versatile and completely gives new life to traditional fruits and veggies. My mother has always pickled the extra produce from her garden, and as a young, busy cook I’ve tried to emulate her thriftiness while throwing in some of my own twists.
As a cook with a tiny kitchen, I have trouble balancing my desire to raid the farmer’s market with my lack of physical storage and refrigeration space. Pickling is the perfect way to reinvent traditional meals while staying mindful of my impact on the environment. Plus, recipes are easy to adjust, and playing with different flavorings is often the best part of the process.
When pickling it’s not only important to take notice of the flavors of your fruit or vegetable, but the texture of the product, as well. It’s essential to choose vegetables or fruits that are dense enough to hold up to your brine and won’t break down in the pickling process. If using a softer fruit, adjust the pickling time. If using a sturdier vegetable, feel free to leave it in the brine longer. The more often you pickle, the more accustomed you’ll become to different flavors and textures.
This summer take advantage of the plethora of vibrant and fresh produce in your local farmer’s market by experimenting with different brine recipes. Whether its a side dish, light and fresh appetizer or
component of your main dish, pickled veggies are a crunchy, fresh addition to any summer meal.
To help you get started on your pickling journey, here is one of my favorite recipes:
Pickled and preserved produce. Photo courtesy of artem_ka via Shutterstock.
Pickled Strawberry Crostini With Herbed Goat Cheese & Basil
- 8 Strawberries, Thinly Sliced
- 8 Slices of Baguette (a day or two old works even better), Sliced on a Bias
- 3 Oz Herbed Goat Cheese
- 4-5 Basil Leaves, Cut Chiffonade
- 3 cups white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup salt
- 2 teaspoons mustard seed
- 1 teaspoon all spice
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
Step 1: Soak the strawberry slices in the brine for about 1-1.5 hrs.
Strain and remove the strawberries, set aside.
Step 2: Line the baguette slices on a baking sheet and drizzle lightly
with olive oil. Toast for about 5-10 minutes in an oven at 350
degrees, until lightly browned.
Step 3: Remove the baguette slices and spread evenly with goat cheese.
Top with the strawberries and basil and serve!
Contributed by Laura Denby, a freelance food writer and recent graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education, living, cooking and eating in Hoboken NJ.