Life calls out for pickles. When you’re eating a turkey club (with potato chips in there, of course), you need a side of NYC Deli Pickle spears. When you’re eating a BBQ pork sandwich, you need Thin-Sliced Bread & Butter Pickles. When you’re home alone, wearing a face mask and watching reruns of 30 Rock, you need Whiskey Sour Pickles.
But as cool as cucumbers are, there are times when the only pickle that will do is pickled fruit. Yes, pickled fruit – it’s a thing, and you want it in your life.
Pickling brings out fruits’ natural sweetness, and brine adds a zippy kick. Plus, pickled fruits are a great way to feast on summer year round – fresh watermelon? Brine there, done that. And the versatility! Nibble with cheese, toss with spaghetti, plop into a cocktail, serve alongside roasted meats and mix into salads... (We take it back – when you’re watching reruns of 30 Rock, you need a dirty martini garnished with a cocktail tomato.)
Below, five of our favorite pickled fruits and how to use ‘em:
Pickled Watermelon – You'll be hard-pressed to imagine that these were once just lowly watermelon rinds. Think silky, refreshingly crisp slices mingling in an intriguing blend of sugar and vinegar laced with warm spices like ginger, cinnamon and cloves. These super-sweet pickles with a hint of tang will make you see watermelon in a whole new way. They add a standout dash of the South to any meal, but are also good enough to serve as an hors d'oeuvre: Wrap 'em in bacon, or pair with creamy goat cheese.
Pickled Cherry Tomatoes – Totally different than anything you’ve tasted before, these juicy, organic “drunken tomatoes” are brined in a mixture of water, vinegar, red wine, onion, sugar, garlic, salt, mustard seeds, fresh and dry basil and celery seed. They explode between your teeth along with a crunch of little mustard seeds, and the red wine really adds a depth of flavor – but don't worry, the alcohol gets cooked off in the pickling process so these are safe for pickle-lovers of all ages. From grilled cheese sandwiches to martinis to cheese plates to sautéing in butter and tossing with spaghetti, we eat these with everything.
Pickled Green Tomatoes – Bright green, with lots of dill, these pear-shaped cocktail tomatoes are a party staple and a bar cart must. Snappy and full of sour goodness, you'll want to whip out that shaker well before 5 o'clock. Don't let the name hold you back! Put these tasty pickles to work in your kitchen – as a garnish, a snack, part of a pre-dinner pickle plate or even in place of traditional olives on a cheese board. Tart and herbaceous, they pair especially well with salty, hard cheeses like Asiago or aged Pecorino. Dill us in.
Vanilla Pickled Cherries – The idea of a pickled cherry might seem bizarre, but once you've tasted these sweet-tart little beauties, trust us, you'll be reaching for the jar again and again. A heady dose of vanilla and a hint of tarragon help bolster the cherry's fruity flavor, while a cider vinegar brine keeps things interesting. Serve alongside pork chops or duck breast or add a few to an arugula salad. Put some in a little bowl to round out a cheese and charcuterie plate.
Cocktail Tomatoes – We love that Lemon Bird Preserves makes its jams and pickles in small batches with peak season fruits and vegetables. But we love them even more because they stray far from the usual produce roundup. These sweet, briny red and yellow spheres are bursting with juices and flavor and will take you back to peak tomato season all year (well, almost). They are super special and will pickle your fancy. As the name suggests, these make a perfect garnish for a dirty martini, made with a splash of their sweet-tart brine. They're also a delicious addition to couscous with zucchini or farro and broccoli.
We’re not gherkin’ around.
Getting your pickled fruit on? Show us @MouthFoods using the hashtag #MOUTHwatering!