A Peck of Pickled Treasures

Pickled vegetables are a bit like crispy ketchup — immediately increasing the acidity, sweetness, and crunch in a dish. These recipes from Jonas Cramby's Tex-Mex from Scratch (Sterling Epicure) work well with tacos and barbecue.

Assorted pickles in jars
Pickled treasures: From left, chilies, watermelon rind, a super-spicy veggie mix called escabeche, and red onion (Photo by Poland Persson)

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Pickled vegetables are a bit like crispy ketchup — immediately increasing the acidity, sweetness, and crunch in a dish. All of the recipes from Jonas Cramby’s Tex-Mex from Scratch (Sterling Epicure) work well with tacos and barbecue.

Reprinted with permission from Tex-Mex from Scratch published in 2015 by Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. © Jonas Cramby. Photography by Poland Persson.

Pickled watermelon rind on a fork
Pickled watermelon rind

Pickled Watermelon Rind

(Makes 2–4 servings)

Take the opportunity to make use of the rind when making ague fresca and make this super-sour and lovely crunchy pickle that goes well with most things. They’re also perfect as a snack on their own or together with a beer in front of the TV or by the water somewhere.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 watermelon
  • 7/8 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 7/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 thumb-size piece of fresh ginger

Directions

Peel green skin from watermelon and retain ¾ inch of the pink fruit flesh. You’ll have watermelon rind made up of about half yellow-green and half pink. Cut melon into 1 ¼–1 ½ inch pieces. Put the rest of the ingredients in a pan with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Add watermelon and simmer for about 1 minute. Let cool, put into screw-top jar and refrigerate. It’s ready to eat after 1 hour and lasts for a week.

Jar of ecabeche, a super-spicy vegetable mix
Escabeche

Escabeche

(Makes 1 jar)

Escabeche is super-spicy pickled vegetables often served with Mexican food.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces veggies, such as carrot, radish, or cauliflower (single veg or mixed)
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons pink peppercorns
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water

Directions

Peel and cut vegetables into small bite-sized pieces. Slice onion. Bring remaining ingredients to a boil in saucepan, add vegetables, remove from heat, and let stand on warm stove for 30 minutes. Let cool, pour into screw-top jar and refrigerate for one day before eating. Will last for 1 week.

jar of pickled red onions
Pickled Red Onion

Pickled Red Onion

(Makes 4 servings)

Pickled red onion is a Mex classic which works with pretty much all types of tacos and grilled meat. Add some beetroot brine if you want to intensify the red color.

Ingredients

  • 2 red onions
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2–1 fresh chili, such as habanero
  • 1 tablespoon liquid from pickled beets (optional)

Directions

Thinly slice onions. Mix other ingredients together in saucepan and bring to a boil. Add onions and simmer for 30 seconds. Let cool and transfer to screw-top jar along with the chili and seal. Refrigerate 6–8 hours until onion slowly changes color from red-white to beautiful light pink. Will keep for a couple of days in fridge.

Jar of pickled chilies
Pickled Chilies

Pickled Chilies

(Makes 1 jar)

If you want to put an end to those creepy green-gray, mushy chilies from a jar, it’s easy to make your own.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces fresh red or green chilies, such as jalapeño or any medium-hot chili
  • 7/8 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons pink peppercorns
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water

Directions

Slice the chilies into rings with seeds and all, and put in a screw-top jar. Bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil in saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour hot liquid over chiles and let stand for a couple hours before putting jar into refrigerator. Will last for a couple months.

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