Don’t let summer’s bounty go to waste! We caught up with pickle pro and sous chef at The Nickel in Denver, Zach Meier, to get some pickling tips.
Denver’s The Nickel restaurant, located in the beloved Hotel Teatro (read about our stay HERE), is a favorite spot for eating, from brunch to dinner. Highlighting seasonal, quality ingredients from local farmers, it’s no wonder they are pickling pros. Plus, their weekend Bloody Mary bar and daily charcuterie and cheese boards are loaded with all of the best pickled toppings you can imagine. It depends on the season and what they have in the kitchen, but some of the favorite pickled items are Cippolini onions, green beans (Zach Meier’s personal favorite) and baby carrots.
We checked in with sous chef Zach Meier to get the lowdown on pickling.
Are you in the Denver area? Keep your eyes out for pickling classes at The Nickel!
Not sure where to start, Zach recommends going with a basic brine ratio. His recipe is 2 percent salt and 1 percent sugar. Although he does like using different brines for different pickled items. Do some Googling and look at different brine ratios based on your taste preference. If you like things sweeter, go for a ratio that is higher in sugar and the opposite if you like to keep things savory.
Besides a recipe or ratio, make sure you are setup to can. Nothing too fancy is needed, but be sure you have a large pot, a wire rack and sealing jars. Along with equipment, Zach highly recommends the book The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz as a great reference tool. It’s great if you’re looking to get really into pickling. Otherwise, Alton Brown has great recipes and tips on his website too.
How ripe should produce be before canning them?
Zach Meier recommends using vegetables or fruits that are as ripe as possible. This ensures that the pickled item ends up being super flavorful and vibrant.
Now it’s time to get creative! We love adding different spices or herbs to our pickling liquid to really bump things up. Zach always adds fennel seed and coriander to his liquid, but from there you can do what you like. Try chili flakes, garlic and more.
We asked Zach what are some fun ways he is using pickled foods this summer and wow, we were inspired to up our next bowl of ice cream. Try it!
“I love pickled watermelon with vanilla ice cream. But a few other combinations could be pickling fruit and vegetables in the same jar to create interesting combinations, and using them on backyard items like burgers, hot dogs and steak. A pickled and grilled vegetable salad is always amazing too.”