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IN A PICKLE BY KATE PAYNE • PHOTOGRAPHY BY JO ANN SANTANGELO

T

he world of fruit pickles opened up before me during a

microorganisms to thrive. Spices and aromatics are infused into

particularly lush summer of peaches while I was living in

the pickled matter by osmosis, which can be sped up with heat.

New York. I rolled home from the farmers market, with 14

Fruit is perhaps not commonly thought of as solid pickle materi-

pounds of peaches, to my basement apartment in Brooklyn—my

al, but tracing back through southern favorites we find watermel-

getaway vehicle being a bike with a storage rack, a tangle of

on rind pickles (made from the scraps of a melon) and gingery,

assorted bungees and a 10-pound Chihuahua-Jack Russell mix

spiced pickled peaches, or hopping the ocean, we find chutneys

accomplice perched like a cherry on top of the mess. (We literally

and tangy fruit spreads spanning many ethnic traditions.

rolled without a car in those days.)

Pickling fruit is an excellent alternative to turning it into jam

After the spectacle of getting my weekend peach extravagan-

for those who are not big fans of sweet preserves. Fruit pickles are

za home, there was only so much jam and sauce I could stand to

more complex, a more grown-up incarnation. My all-time favorite

make in my hot little kitchen. I always joke that it’s a wonder I ever

use for pickled fruit is using the brine for shrub cocktails and

canned again after that first foray into sealing jars via water-bath

dropping in the pickled fruit as a garnish.

canning. It turns out that I prefer to be a small-batch canner, not a

These canning recipes work well using a water-bath for lon-

put-up-the-entire-harvest kind of canner. One of the projects that

ger-term storage, but I prefer to just pickle small batches and

my ripe-and-ready peaches endured and excelled at was a single jar

store them in the refrigerator, where they stay firmer. I encour-

of refrigerator pickles. In subsequent years, with way fewer peach-

age lots of experimentation, as fruit will evolve throughout the

es, I’ve reserved more for this particular delicacy, canned them,

course of the season. Early-season fruits tend to be a bit more

conservatively gifted them and proceeded to hoard the remainder.

tart, but the later they hang on, the sweeter they become. Exper-

Pickling is the process of either pouring an acidic solution

imenting with non-sugar sweeteners is also welcome, although

over fruits and vegetables or using salt or a saltwater brine to en-

they can produce darker brines and generally deeper, more mo-

courage the growth of lactic acid-producing bacteria; both meth-

lasses-like flavors. When using a sugar-alternative, I will some-

ods promote an environment too acidic for spoiler bacteria and

times add a bit of organic citrus zest to brighten things up.

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Edible Austin: Beverage 2016  

Learn about Kooper Family Rye Whiskey, Hops & Grain Brewery, Railean Rum and much more!

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