Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

In a Pickle – US Food Trends

30 September 2009
In a Pickle – US Food Trends

When a bumper crop of tomatoes, beets and cucumbers arrives at the back door, much of the bounty finds its way onto the menu. What to do with the extra? Many resourceful chefs, including Michael McDonald, Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and Danielle Custer, turn to pickling.

This article first appeared in the 1 September 2009 issue of Restaurants & Institutions (R&I).

R&I is the USA's leading source of food and business-trend information and exclusive research on operators and restaurant patrons. Editorial coverage spans the entire foodservice industry, including chains, independent restaurants, hotels and institutions. Visit the R&I website to find out more about the magazine or to search its recipe database.

Batches of pickles do more than extend the life of vegetables and fruit. They add acidity to salads, delicate fish entrées, rich meat dishes and cheese plates while giving chefs the flexibility to use seasonal produce long after harvest time has passed.

While late-summer produce still beckons, consider pickling or preserving a batch of grapes, beets or any crunchy vegetable for safekeeping. Here, ideas from kitchens across the country.


Director Danielle Custer, Taste at the Seattle Art Museum
Yield: 4 cups

  • Cinnamon sticks 4
  • Sugar 1½ cups
  • White-wine vinegar 1 cup
  • Onion, minced 1 Tbsp.
  • Seedless grapes, stemmed 4 cups

In a small saucepan, bring cinnamon, sugar, vinegar and onion to a boil. Stir well, lower to a simmer, cook 5 minutes.

Divide the grapes among 4 very clean canning jars. Place 1 cinnamon stick in each jar. Pour syrup over the grapes. Cover with a lid and process for canning. Alternatively, store refrigerated for as long as 3 weeks.

*At Taste, pickled grapes are served in salads or alongside cheese.


Chef-partner Josh Eden, Shorty's .32, New York City
Yield: 2 quarts

  • Cucumbers 2
  • Mustard seeds 2 Tbsp.
  • Black peppercorns 2 Tbsp.
  • Coriander seeds 1 Tbsp.
  • Bay leaf 1
  • Tarragon 4 sprigs
  • Rice-wine vinegar 1 qt.
  • Sugar ¾ cup

Slice cucumbers ¼-inch thick widthwise. Place in a large, clean jar.

Make a sachet with the mustard seeds, peppercorns, coriander, bay leaf and tarragon.

In a small pot, boil together vinegar, sugar and sachet. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Pour brine and sachet over the cucumbers.

Cool; remove sachet.

Refrigerate 1 to 3 hours before serving. Pickles keep, refrigerated, for about 1 month.

\* Chef Eden serves the pickles with burgers.


Chef-partner Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder, Colo.
Yield: about 5 cups

  • Beets, roasted, peeled, quartered 2 lb.
  • Water 1 liter
  • White vinegar 7.4 oz.
  • Salt 2.7 oz.
  • Sugar 2.7 oz.
  • Dill 1 sprig
  • Small hot pepper 1
  • Garlic 1 clove
  • Celery seed ½ tsp

Submerge a half-gallon jar and lid in boiling water 3 to 5 minutes to sterilize.

Boil water, vinegar, salt and sugar.

Place beets, dill, pepper, garlic and celery seed in the jar. Pour hot pickling liquid over the top. Cover with a lid; cool. Let sit, refrigerated, for 2 weeks or as long as 6 months.

* These beets garnish cauliflower soup.


Executive Chef Michael McDonald, one sixtyblue, Chicago
Yield: 4 cups

  • Any crunchy vegetable 4 dozen pieces
  • Garlic 16 cloves
  • Thai chiles 12
  • Fresh dill 1 bunch
  • White vinegar 2 qt.
  • Water 4 qt.
  • Kosher salt 2 cups
  • Dill seed 2 cups
  • Juniper berries ¼ cup

Soak vegetables in an ice bath for about 2 hours. Place in a large plastic container with garlic, chiles and fresh dill.

Boil together vinegar, water, salt, dill seed and juniper berries. Pour over the vegetables until vegetables are submerged. Let cool to room temperature; refrigerate. Vegetables keep, refrigerated, for 2 to 3 weeks.

* Minced house-made pickles are mixed with butter for a pickle butter.

The Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email

Start the working day with The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign Up and manage your preferences below

Check mark icon
Thank you

You have successfully signed up for the Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email and will hear from us soon!

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.


Ad Blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an adblocker and – although we support freedom of choice – we would like to ask you to enable ads on our site. They are an important revenue source which supports free access of our website's content, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

trade tracker pixel tracking