What is the best way to mess around with flavors and come up with a flavor profile we like? One suggestion is to find a recipe like the one I linked below and tweek it to our liking. How do we get from that recipe (point A) to our preferred version (point B)? Do exactly what our parents told us NOT to do, play with our food! The first recipe I ever made was done by the book, this recipe to be precise. The author has a fun approach that makes shoving off into the culinary sea of brine a breeze.
Pickles in general are fairly simple to make. Prepare vegetables, cover with brine (hot or cold), wait (overnight or over the course of a week). Every attempt I’ve made so far has been a Pickling 101 course for me. Now it’s time to get into Pickling 102. Flavor. This is where the exciting things happen!
When considering flavor, I’ve learned to start with the cucumber. For the most part color and skin texture are selected for in growing pickling cucumbers. You might find the flavor of your cucumbers persists through to the final product; this may be due to processing being incomplete or, in my case, making refrigerator pickles can be a fast process, yet I’m impatient. If you are too, you should know a few things. All cucumbers taste different, so if you really want to start eating pickles the morning after you make them, tasting the spices first is a must. Try to imagine the flavor of the cucumber alone mixed with some of your favorite pickling spices. If you like the spices to overpower the cucumber flavor, find a cucumber that tastes plain on its own. Strong flavor in the vegetable can help or hinder your product. Remember that you can not do this for pickles in a simple salt brine. Room temperature saltwater DOES NOT kill bacteria like boiling vinegar brine does. In fact, that’s the point. Fermenting pickles is the process of letting bacteria partly digest the cucumber for you. These require a week or so of sitting out before they are safe to eat. You might have read that if they smell rotten, they are rotten. Head that warning.
Have you had a flavor revolution in your kitchen? What ingredients blew you away?