Pickling, Salting, and Brining
April 29, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - PICKLING, SALTING, AND BRINING
One of the frustrations of seasonal eating is that we can't always eat as much as we can buy; so the problem is, how can we save it to enjoy it later? Salting and brining are two ancient techniques of preserving food, but sometimes the flavor changes are so significant that we might do it for the sake of the taste. Chef Jerry Pelligrino of Waterfront Kitchen has thought a lot about this.
First, lovers of fresh vegetables might want to look into pickling, an easy procedure that can preserve that spring-fresh flavor for months.
Basic quick pickling liquid recipe:
2 cups white vinegar (or any other that suits your fancy)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons salt
Combine all ingredients (including any flavor additions below) in a saucepan and bring to a boil until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool slightly so the liquid does not cook the vegetables. Pour pickling liquid into glass jars over vegetables, seal and reserve.
You can customize your pickles any way you want to by enhancing the basic recipe. Try a few of these additions for a twist on the traditional pickle flavor.
1. Substitute a different vinegar. Try cider vinegar, rice vinegar or red wine vinegar for extra tang.
2. Add whole peppercorns, whole peeled garlic cloves, coriander seeds, mustard seeds or dill seeds for a big boost in flavor.
3. Add hot sauce, red pepper flakes, fresh chopped jalapeños or other chili peppers for spice.
4. Add whole cloves, cinnamon sticks or whole allspice for hints of baking spice.
Salting meat is a super-easy way to tenderize a steak, and make it cook in a tastier manner. Ordinary beef contains a lot of water, more than you need to make the cut tender. A heavy layer of salt left on for two or three hours will draw the excess water out of the meat, and by osmosis, penetrate the meat for extra flavor. This means that the meat will not steam itself as it would normally. Instead it cooks through, and emerges as tender as it can be.
In some respects, brining is the reverse process. Let's say you want to brine a chicken. You mix up one gallon of water with 1 1/2 cups of Morton's Kosher salt. Soak the chicken in the brine for about 12 hours, refrigerated. The salted water will penetrate the meat by osmosis, and add to the moisture that will reside in the tissue while it is cooking. The result is a very moist and tender bird.