Quick Purple Kohlrabi Pickles
Adapted from Linda Ziedrich’s The Joy of Pickling
3/4 lb young purple kohlrabi bulbs, stems trimmed, and cut into large matchsticks (do not peel) (about 3 2-inch bulbs)
3/4 t. fine grain sea salt
1/2 c. unseasoned rice vinegar (or if using seasoned, leave out the 1 T. sugar called for in the recipe)
1/2 c. water
2 medium garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
Zest of 1/2 a lemon, in strips
1 T. sugar
1/4 t. black peppercorns, crushed
2 thin slices fresh ginger
1/4 t. hot pepper flakes
In a bowl, toss kohlrabi with salt. Let stand for about 1 hour
Drain the kohlrabi and pack into a pint jar or other piece of tupperware. Bring the remaining ingredients to a boil and immediately pour them over the kohlrabi and mix. Cover and let cool to room temperature.
Once cool, place jar in the refrigerator. Let pickles mature for about 1.5 – 2 days. Pickles will keep (refrigerated) for about three weeks. Enjoy!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Ever since I bought Linda Ziedrich’s book The Joy of Pickling, I’ve had pickles on the brain… not the typical pickles one usually imagines — you know, made with cucumbers, puckering-ly salty, sour, sweet, or vinegar-y, filled with preservatives, usually used as a topping for hamburgers…. No, my mind has been filled with all sorts of unusual and unique pickles spanning the gamut of the food spectrum — cantaloupe pickles, pickled eggs, squash pickles, pickled figs, pickled beef tongue (?!), green tomato pickles, miso pickles, half-sour cabbage, kimchi, and turnip pickles to name a few…. oh yes, and kohlrabi pickles of course!
I was walking through the farmer’s market last weekend when I came across a vendor selling big, beautiful bunches of purple kohlrabi. Kohlrabi is a bulbous vegetable with dark green leaves that is a member of the cabbage family; whereas most cabbages put their energy into producing a large and dense head of leaves, kohlrabi puts its energy into producing a large bulb that has a similar texture to the core of a head of cabbage. Most often you’ll find green kohlrabi, but if you’re lucky, you might find some purple kohlrabi at your local farmer’s market. Since I had intentions to make a quick pickle that day, yet hadn’t decided what type, I purchased a bunch of purple kohlrabi and decided that these would be the inaugural pickles.
Besides the bulb, the green leaves of kohlrabi can be eaten — simply use them like any other mild yet sturdy cooking green. After using the bulbs to make these pickles, I stripped the center stems of the leaves and made creamed kohlrabi greens that turned out beautifully (chop and steam the greens, add a little sour cream, horseradish, butter, and nutmeg — yum!). The leaves are actually quite tasty — less bitter than collard greens, but with the same hearty yet velvety texture…
And finally to the pickles! These quick pickles take only about two days to mature, as opposed to most pickles and krauts that take time on the order of weeks or months rather than days to mature. With the addition of lemon zest and red pepper flakes, these end up having a lovely complexity not found in most store-bought pickles; also, they’re slightly vinegar-y, but not too sour and not at all salty. Additionally, since these are ‘quick’ and not meant to be preserved, you don’t have to mess with properly canning your pickles — just drop the ingredients into a jar, shake, shake, shake, and that’s it — no boiling or processing is needed.
As for pickling itself, I’ve got lots of plans for the upcoming summer — pickled okra, watermelon rind pickles, red miso celery pickles, quick carrot pickles, and of course, some more traditional cucumber pickles (made with the Suyo Long and Mexican Sour Gherkin cucumbers from my garden!). Do you pickle at all? if so, what are you favorite things to make?