Kojo and chef Pati Jinich look at how history -- and famous names like El Chico, Azteca and even Fritos -- shaped modern Mexican-American cooking in the Washington region and beyond.
They’re delicious ways to extended the life of many fruits, vegetables and meats: pickling and preserving. There’s both a science and an art to creating, jarring and storing pickles, jams, preserves and chutneys. Kojo explores the craft with people who have a passion for pickling and preserving.
- Nicole Donnelly Master Preserver; Author, "Gin and Pickles"
- Logan Cox Executive Chef, Ripple (Washington, D.C.)
- Ed Bruske Co-Founder, DC Urban Gardeners; Certified Master Gardener; Blogger, The Slow Cook
Slow Cook Ed Bruske’s Pickling and Preserving Recipes
Eggplant Packed in Olive Oil With Garlic, Basil, and Red Pepper Flakes
(An all-time favorite on Ed’s blog, and one that he thinks highlights a great way to create wonderful flavors through preservation).
Spicy Pickled Okra
Okra is well-suited to the heat and humidity in D.C. This recipe shows how pickling often is an improvisation, using what the garden offers you in the way of ingredients.
What to do with green tomatoes?
MR. KOJO NNAMDIPerhaps being caught in a pickle isn't such a bad thing. A pickle may actually be the best way to savor the harvest you worked so hard to make happen this past growing season, a surefire method to stretch piles of fruits, vegetables, even meats into delicious jars of treats that can last through a cold winter. The art and science of preservation can also be the path to homemade jams, jellies and marmalades, even for those of us who fear we don't have enough space to jar and can in small kitchen spaces.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThis hour, we're joined by three people who have a passion for pickling and preserving. They're eager to dish on strategies that involve everything from blueberries to okra to Brussels sprouts and corned beef. Joining us in studio Ed Bruske. Ed Bruske is a certified master gardener and the co-founder of the group DC Urban Gardeners. He blogs at The Slow Cook. Ed, good to see you again.
MR. ED BRUSKEHi, Kojo. Thanks.
NNAMDIAlso in studio with us is Nicole Donnelly. She is a certified master food preserver, we'll soon find out what that is, and a pickling and preserving enthusiast. She blogs at yes, "Gin and Pickles." Nicole Donnelly, thank you so much for joining us.
MS. NICOLE DONNELLYThank you, Kojo.
NNAMDIAnd Logan Cox is the executive chef at Ripple Restaurant in the Cleveland Park area of Washington, D.C. Logan, thank you for joining us.
MR. LOGAN COXThanks for having me, Kojo.
NNAMDIIt's a conversation you too can join at 800-433-8850. Have you experimented with pickling or preserving food at home? What are your secrets or favorite recipes? Call us at 800-433-8850 or send us a Tweet at kojoshow. Ed, you are the former owner of a bustling urban farm, a front yard that produced a bounty of fruits and vegetables every year. We'll talk later in the broadcast about what happened to your garden. But first, let's talk about pickling and preserving, which you say are methods that you discovered were among the best ways to get the most out of the harvest every year. Why are you so enthusiastic about pickling and preserving and when did you start experimenting?
BRUSKEWell, believe it or not, there was a time before people had refrigerators and electricity.
NNAMDII lived in that time, in a (word?) house.
BRUSKEDid you really?
BRUSKEYou don't look so old.
NNAMDIWithout a refrigerator, that's right.
BRUSKEAnd they needed a way to get through the winter and so they learned how to keep their foods. Very important to that was salt of course. They salted fish, they salted meat, they salted vegetables. And we ended up with pickling or preserving so that people would have something to eat all winter long. My garden, which you mentioned, grew a lot of food. We could not eat all of it at the time that it was ripe. And so we looked for ways that we could preserve it and eat it later on. Some of it you see there in front of you. And so I became a pickler also. But I have to demure a little bit because I never tried to be a prize-winning pickler per say. I never, you know, went in for exotic kind of stuff. Just enough so that we could -- you know, had a way to enjoy our okra later, our green tomatoes, of which we had many, our eggplant.
NNAMDIYeah, let's talk about those green tomatoes for a second because you wrote last year that you saved more than ten pounds of green tomatoes from a pack of field mice that were devouring your kitchen garden and that you salvaged them by making pickles. You don't even necessarily need ripe ingredients, I take it.
BRUSKENo, you don't need ripe ingredients, but there're two issues at work there. The field mice were one. They were driving us crazy. We could -- did not find a way to get rid of them exactly. The other was global warming. In 2010, I don't know if you recall, we had the hottest summer on record and it really messed with the pollination of our tomato plants. So we didn't see any tomatoes until around September when it started to cool off. And then all of a sudden, we had loads of tomatoes which never got ripe. We harvested bushels of them the week before Thanksgiving, if you can believe it or not.
BRUSKESo we had all these green tomatoes and we're looking for ways to deal with them. And that has actually turned out to be one of the all time most popular pieces on my blog, a piece that I wrote about what to do with green tomatoes, 'cause apparently a lot of people are having the same issue.
NNAMDISampled some the last time you were here. And, Nicole, it's my understanding that you were one of the judges at that D.C. state fair where Ed Bruske submitted his pickled zucchini. At what point did you start developing a passion and an expertise for pickling and for preserving?
DONNELLYOh, I started about ten or so years ago when I was living in Miami. I stumbled across a kit that Ball Foods used to put out in craft stores for making jam. So I made jams. I shared them with my friends and they thought it was the most amazing thing in the world. I had a habit of making large amounts of tomato sauce there in the winter time because tomato season's in January and I'd lose all this freezer space. And I said, well, if I can make jam, why can't I do something with these tomatoes? And then I started researching the topic, found some books and went from there.
NNAMDIAs they say, the rest is history, but there's a certain part of that history that inquiring minds would like to know about because you've taken this so far that you've gone out and obtained a master food preserver certification through the University of Wisconsin system. What does it mean to be a master food preserver?
DONNELLYVery similar to the master gardener certification that Ed has obtained. It's a certification administered through the extension services run by the USDA and the land grant universities throughout the country. So every state has an extension service. They offer varying programs. The master food preserver seems to have fallen out of favor on the east coast but is still popular in the middle of the country and on the west coast. And it's a 24-hour program where you go and you formalize your background in food preservation. So everything from hot water bath canning and pressure canning to dehydrating and freezing.
NNAMDIShe is therefore qualified to tell us about recommendations for canning safely. Logan Cox, restaurants go through a lot of ingredients but you've turned to pickling to stretch the most out of what you use. I hear you've moved way beyond standard vegetables, that you're working with bok choy, veal tongue, that you even like to mix pickled fruits with iced cream.
COXYes, that's true, Kojo. We try to get as creative as we possibly can at the restaurant, I guess to keep it as interesting for us as well as the diner. We pickle, you know, any kind of protein, any vegetable. We do fermentation pickles, we try to stretch the product as far as we possibly can and make it taste as delicious as we possibly can as well.
NNAMDIBut you were playing college football at Virginia Tech when somehow your culinary side kind of overtook your football side.
COXI don't know if that's exactly true. I think I'm just too short.
NNAMDITo continue playing football?
COXYeah, pretty much.
NNAMDIWell, before we go further down the road of unique and crazy things that can be pickled and preserved, let's start out with the basics here. If you were to make a standard cucumber dill pickle, Nicole, I'll start with you, and where do you start? What exactly is the science behind what happens in that jar?
DONNELLYSo the main thing is making sure that you have a vinegar that can preserve your food adequately. The recommendation put out by the National Center for Home Food Preservation is that your vinegar needs to be 5 percent acidity or stronger. So that's most of your standard vinegars that you're going to find in the grocery story. Rice wine vinegar usually tends to be 4 percent so that's not recommended for canning but it's perfectly fine for doing refrigerator pickles.
DONNELLYFrom there, there's a few different brine mixtures you can do. Some people, like myself, love vinegar so much that I'm not adverse to pickling purely in vinegar. But a one-to-one ratio of vinegar and water tends to sit well with most people. And from there you go to seasonings. So salts, your pickling spices. You can buy pickling spices premixed in the store or you can make your own. For example, if you for some reason don't like certain flavors like coriander you can make your own pickling spice without it or add more of the things that you like the best.
BRUSKEI just had to insert here, Kojo, that there really are two distinct worlds in pickling. One is the fermenting world and one is the vinegar world. The vinegar -- that's for sissies, as far as I'm concerned. The fermenting of vegetables and meats and other stuff is for the real thrill seekers in the crowd. And in my world, pickling cucumbers starts with salt and water and dill and garlic and things like that that are fermented. Those are the -- what you call the Kosher dills that you find in the deli, very different from the vinegar pickles that we're talking about in jars.
NNAMDILogan, what are you into?
COXWell, we actually do both at the restaurant. We have fermented our own kimichi. We have done several different fermented pickles. We make fermented meats like as in dry cured sausages. We pretty much do both worlds. Depends on what you're looking for. We've also made capers out of different fruits and items just to keep it as different and exciting as possible.
NNAMDIWhat are the biggest mistakes you need to avoid here for safety's sake, Nicole? What -- where am I likely to go awry, so to speak?
DONNELLYThe first thing is to make sure that your vinegar has an adequate amount of acidity. The second item to do is, if you're new to this, is definitely look for a recipe that's been tested. The tested recipes come from the National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia. They've published both a book and a DVD series to get you started. And the Ball Corporation thoroughly tests their recipes. There's no requirements for publishers to have recipe writers test their recipes. So if you were going to go down that route, it's a good idea to compare those to known recipes to make sure you're acidifying your food safely.
DONNELLYWith vegetables, when you can them in a hot water bath cannery, they do need to be acidified. Things like clean green beans can't be done as a hot water bath. So that's where you have to start looking. As long as you're using a good amount of vinegar, you should be good. And then, where Ed comes in with the fermentation, you have to look for a good ratio of salt to your vegetables. You, in that case, are cultivating the bacteria to do a certain thing.
DONNELLYAnd if you start playing around too much with your salt, you're going to get in trouble. So there's really no low salt sauerkraut you can make. You can rinse your salt off later, but you don't want to start with a lower amount of salt 'cause you can get into some trouble there.
NNAMDIIt's a prickling and pickling and preserving conversation that you can join by calling 800-433--8850. Where do preserving or pickling fit into your strategies for stretching the food you collect in the yearly harvest? 800-433-8850. Here is Sarah in Washington, D.C. Sarah, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
SARAHThanks for having me, Kojo. And Logan, I will be at Ripple hopefully this weekend because everything you talked about sounded so delicious.
SARAHSo we're actually a new pickling startup on the scene here in D.C. and that our company's called Gordon's Pickle Jar. So I just wanted to say, you know, this is a really awesome show and there seems to be a rebirth of an old craft. And there's more and more small batch artisanal pickling companies popping up. And we're really happy to have D.C. as our hometown.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Sarah. And if I sound like I'm chewing from time to time that's only because I am. We have such a variety of pickled delicacies here that I can't help myself. But Logan, especially since Sarah referred to you, there are a whole lot of different methods and different ingredients. Pickling can be a really creative process as you see it.
COXAbsolutely. As far as flavoring a vinegar pickle, you can flavor the brine as many different ways as possible. For instance, today, I pickled potatoes to bring here and I flavored the brine with lots of fermented chilies and saffron. So it gives -- it really infuses into the vegetable as well so you can try as many and experiment as many different flavors as possible into the brine. So you can have fun with it.
NNAMDIEd, we've posted to our website your recipe for pickled okra that you said was the most prolific vegetable in your old garden. But you also know that pickling is a great way for people who might be turned off by the sliminess of okra to finally enjoy it. Why?
BRUSKEThere's no slime in pickled okra or at least in my pickled okra. And some people are turned off...
NNAMDIIs this your pickled okra right here?
BRUSKEIt is, yeah. And that's from a couple of years ago. The thing about okra is you never know when you're going to get a stringy or a tough okra. They're easy to spot when you're cooking with them because when you cut into them, they sound kind of like cardboard. But when you're pickling them and you don't -- I'm watching you eat one right now. Could be a little -- if it's stringy, I apologize, but they -- when you're using them, pickling them whole, you can't really tell. But we like a so-called Texas style okra which is seasoned in vinegar with hot chili peppers also from the garden.
BRUSKEAnd as Logan was mentioning, we improvise with the peppers or other ingredients that we have on hand in the garden.
NNAMDIWell, I just tasted your pickled okra, and it is fine. It is not stringy at all. I think Nicole tasted it too, right?
BRUSKEI'm so relieved.
DONNELLYYes, I did. It's very good.
NNAMDINicole, one might ask, why in the world are you guys talking about pickling and preserving today in December just a few days before Christmas? I think you put it best when you wrote on your website this week, well, why not?
DONNELLYExactly. D.C., we're very lucky, we have year-round farmer's markets. You just go out and look. Find something that you like and go practice. We have orchards that cold store their apples and pears, so we get them all winter, and we also have a plethora of Brussels sprouts right now. We have cauliflower. All those make great ingredients for pickling.
NNAMDIYou noted that prime citrus growing season is gearing up. What else are you thinking about around this time of year?
DONNELLYOh, you can get a lot of good oranges and grapefruits from Florida if you go in with a few people, ship a few crates up, that'll keep you busy for a few days. Meyer lemons always come out a lot around this time of year, just after Christmas. You can do your preserved lemons, particularly if you enjoy Moroccan cooking and Persian cooking. There's a lot of use of preserved lemons in that.
NNAMDISo is this going to be the year you finally pickle Brussels sprouts?
DONNELLYI hope so. I keep meaning to do it, and I keep buying the Brussels sprouts to do it, but then I just eat them for dinner, so...
BRUSKEKojo, I would just like to say that this is a great time to make sauerkraut. Coolness is a good thing for fermentation if you have a basement where you can make it and cabbage that's been kissed by the last most recent frost, which we haven't really experienced here much, has even more flavor, and you have not experienced sauerkraut unless you've made it yourself. And I would even say there's also something called sauerruben which is like sauerkraut, but it's made out of turnips, and it's even better.
NNAMDIHere's Audrey in Alexandria, Va. Audrey, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
AUDREYHi. I'd like to ask Ed about fermenting pickles, because I do a fermenting meet up here in Alexandria, and one thing that I find from the green beans to the cucumbers is sometimes the consistency is soft, and sometimes it's crisp, and sometimes those are batches I've made in the same day. What's going on?
BRUSKELike I said, this fermenting is not for sissies. You never know exactly how it's going to turn out and part of that has to do with ambient temperature and, you know, it's always a little bit of a surprise, but fermenting is something that cultures have done around the world for centuries. The Romans loved a fermented fish they called Garum, and if you look on your Worcestershire sauce, which is a legacy of the Romans in Britain, you will see there's anchovies in it.
BRUSKEYou may not have known that, but that's kind of a -- I have there a pickled mustard green, because we grew so many greens in our garden I decided to try pickling them. The fermented one after a southeast Asian recipe, did not turn out, and when things don't turn out when they've been fermented, you really know it. But the vinegar one, but there's all kinds of fermented -- if you get a book called "Wild Fermentation" by Sandor Katz, you will have everything you need to know about how to do that.
NNAMDIAudrey, thank you very much for your call. We're going to take a short break, and when we come back, we'll continue our conversation, pickling and preserving on Food Wednesday. You can still call us. If the lines are buys, however, send us a tweet @kojoshow, email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to our website, kojoshow.org, join the conversation there. The phone number 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIFood Wednesday, we're talking pickling and preserving with Nicole Donnelly. She is a certified master food preserver and a pickling and preserving enthusiast. She blogs at "Gin and Pickles." Ed Bruske is a certified master gardener and the co-founder of the group D.C. Urban Gardeners. He blogs at The Slow Cook, and Logan Cox is the executive chef at Ripple Restaurant in the Cleveland Park area of Washington D.C. Tell us a little bit about what you brought, Nicole.
DONNELLYToday I brought a pickled eggplant. I kind tweaked my recipe from last year, so you'll have to tell me if you like it. My family complained that the acidity was too high. There's also a pickled green bean that has a lot of mustard seed and a little bit of dried hot pepper in it, a pickled beet which is a recipe that I've kind of come up with over time.
NNAMDIA good recipe, I just had it.
DONNELLYYeah. It used less sugar than commercial pickled beets, and also includes ginger in it, and then a curried zucchini, which is in the style of a bread and butter pickle. I use zucchini because I have a family member who's not thrilled with cucumbers, and then we went with a Jamaican curry powder in this once since turmeric is a big ingredient in a bread and butter pickles, and the person who does not like cucumbers is also Jamaican.
BRUSKEWell, besides the okra that I brought you, I have some green tomato mincemeat which is like a -- there's no meat in it. It's like a green tomato chutney only more so, and some -- the pickled mustard greens there, and I mentioned the okra, some old fashioned bread and butter pickles, and what else? Hold up the jar there, maybe I can see it. Yeah. That's the mustard greens.
NNAMDIAnd what do you have here?
BRUSKEThose are the eggplant from Nicole. On the subject of the eggplant, another of the most popular posts that I've ever had on my blog was thinly sliced eggplant that had been salted and -- which draws out the liquid and then seasoned with red wine vinegar and packed in jars with garlic, basil, hot chili peppers and covered with olive oil. So it wasn't even pickled per se, but people love that.
COXWell, today I brought a few different things with different techniques used, but we...
NNAMDIWe're gonna get to that.
COXBlueberry capers, we brought the saffron and fermented chili pickled potatoes, we brought pickled sardines that are marinated in turmeric oil with citrus and bay leaf, and also brought a pickled pork shoulder rillette. I didn't know there were so many Ps in one sentence, that was amazing.
NNAMDIThe blueberry capers, I don't know if there are any left. Our intern Paolo has been feasting on them. He's never joined me in studio before, but today I guess it was the blueberry capers. Logan, pickles in particular are steeped in cultural history. They conjure up images of the classic New York Jewish deli, but I hear that you're particularly fascinated about the Asian approach of pickling. Why is that?
COXWell, I think personally for me, kimchi is one of my most favorite pickles. It's extremely flavorful, it's funky, a little bit fizzy, and it just has a very complex and interesting flavor profile that you can't really find in any other pickle, I feel. I think mainly because they use, you know, fermented fish pieces like dried shrimps and scallops and things like that, and when we eat at the restaurant we use some of those, but we also use fermented fish paste, you know, we'll use anchovies in our pickles, just to give it that interesting fishy flavor.
NNAMDIWhat's going on here with the saffron and chili potatoes?
COXWell, those were a quick pickle I actually did about an hour before I got here. They're just shaved thin, and we essentially poach them in that saffron and chili pickle brine, just until they're still crisp so you have a nice crisp potato, but most people are put off by the fact of actually eating like a raw potato, the texture of it.
NNAMDILogan, you'll really like this email we got from Jonas. He says, "We Jews are rather proud of our pickles. Consider me a bad Jew. I like the way Asian people do it better. They're spicier. That might get me in trouble with my fellow tribesmen, but, oh, well." He's discovered the Asian methods. Here is Scott in Takoma Park. Scott, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
SCOTTYes. The -- first a comment and then kind of a question. The comment has to do with a favor recipe that I have for pickling pickles, and it's extremely simple. It's simply the pickles, rice wine vinegar, chopped sweet onion and lots of pepper. And the secret to it is, and my comment later, is that I don't change the fluid. Now, that's using the refrigerator. I don't do these, you know, at room temperature. But to keep taking the pickles out and keep putting more pickles and onions in it, and I've got one Pyrex jar in my refrigerator, I don't think I've changed the liquid in two years.
SCOTTAnd where I got that from, was I grew in part of the Pennsylvania Dutch country in Pennsylvania, and I know stores that had the traditional-style pickle bottles, and they only changed the vinegar once a year.
NNAMDIAllow me to consult with my master food preserver here. Nicole?
DONNELLYSo from the master food preserver perspective, you probably get a lot of people saying, well, maybe you change that a little more often. But one of the benefits about knowing the science behind what you're doing is deciding what you personally are comfortable with. Somebody might hear that and say well, I would never do that, but if that's what you love to do and you're fine with it, I say go for it.
NNAMDIAnd thank you very much for your call, Scott. Ed, you wrote on "The Slow Cook" this week that your family's experiments with pickling and preserving led you down the path to the most delicious watermelon rind you ever tasted. What's the story behind your watermelon rind?
BRUSKEWell, that was something we made in my, what I call, food appreciation classes in the after school program at Georgetown Day School where I've been teaching for the last five years. And I must say, if anybody's looking for a good excuse to cook in the kitchen with kids, pickling is a great one because kids love to pickle. We made sauerkraut with them, we made the sauerruben that I mentioned, and all kinds of different pickles.
NNAMDIIt's hard work, but somebody's got to do it.
BRUSKESomebody's got to do it. And then you got to eat it. And one of the things that I -- one of the recipes I came across was just phenomenal pickled watermelon rind which has a great tradition in the south, and that's basically where you take the skin off the rind and -- after you've eaten the flesh, and use that inner rind and it was pickled with cardamom which is phenomenal spice for pickling with. It was just sweet, very sweet, but to die for.
NNAMDIHere's Skip in Frederick, Md. Skip, your turn.
SKIPYes. Our grandmother used to can string beans, potatoes, and ham all together. Is there any way -- do you know how to do it, so I can give it a shot?
DONNELLYThat you would need a pressure canner for. Once you introduce meat into something it always need to pressure canned, and additionally, if you're not pickling a vegetable, it needs to be pressure canned. There's two different kind of pressure canners out on the market, you have dial gauge, and you have weighted gauge. And if you go to the National Center for Home Food Preservation website from the University of Georgia, it'll give you information that you need about pressure canning, and there should be some recipes up there to do something along those lines.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Skip. Good luck to you. Is it fair to say that we've seen a resurgence in preserving food during the past several years that it's part of a kind of do-it-yourself kind of culture that's been gaining a lot of momentum? Have you been seeing this, Logan?
COXAbsolutely. Especially in restaurants. You'll notice that almost I'd say 70 percent of the restaurants in Washington D.C., they offer Charcuterie plates now, you know, dried, cured, fermented sausages and pates and things that are always accompanied by that are almost always pickles or jams or things like that, and people I think are recognizing and appreciating more around -- at least around the city the homemade, house made aspect as far as, you know, this is amazing. This guy makes -- or this person makes all of their own pickles, their own sausages, their own everything, and I think the guests a little bit of excitement.
NNAMDIWas there any hesitation on your part to put pickled kinds of things on the menu at your restaurant? What gave you the confidence that there was enough of a critical mass for you to say hey, my customers are going to want this, we are putting it on the menu.
COXWell, that's pretty simple. I love acidic food, so everybody else should, too.
NNAMDIThat's the starting point of your restaurant? If I like it, they'll like it, too. Was preserving or jarring or pickling a family tradition kind of thing for you growing up, Nicole?
DONNELLYNot growing up. My great-grandmother I know used to do it, and also my stepmother grew up on a farm so it's a big part of her family tradition.
NNAMDIHow about yours Ed? Any?
BRUSKEYeah. My father had a garden in the back of the house, and fruit trees, and I remember him making jams and jellies when he used wax to cover the tops of the jars way back when.
NNAMDIThe center our conversation, yours and mine, over the years has been your family's garden, the urban farm that you created just a stone's throw away from the White House. So today we need to mention that you sold that house this past summer and that the garden is now officially gone. What emotions have you been experiencing by leaving that garden?
BRUSKEAre you trying to get me to cry on your show, Kojo?
NNAMDIYes. I'm working on it, yes. This is what I'd like...
BRUSKETrying to get me to cry so -- this is a knife through my heart.
BRUSKEYes. I'm a bit at loose ends. What I failed to mention in all those talks about the garden, there was actually a house attached to the garden also, and it was a very large house, and a very old house, and it needed a lot of work, and I tried to get my wife to do it all, but at one point she finally said, enough. And we decided that it was time to put that house in the hands of somebody who actually could something better, bring it into the21st century.
NNAMDIBut you nevertheless thought that even though they were in the process of well, redeveloping the property that you could still maybe just drop by and work the garden
BRUSKEThat lasted about two seconds because as soon as we were out of the house, it turned out that everybody thought that they could a piece of that garden, and they did. So I never saw anything out of the garden that I planted this year, and now it's completely gone.
NNAMDIWhich you are not trying to get your wife to do, you seem to be trying to get your daughter to do. You brought your daughter with you here today.
BRUSKEI know. She -- well, she only has a half-day on Wednesdays, so she had to go somewhere.
BRUSKEHer mother's going off to West Virginia.
NNAMDIWhat's your daughter's name?
BRUSKEMy daughter's name is Lila, and she's 11 years old, and she has helped in the garden a great deal over the years. She loves to work in the garden.
NNAMDIHi Lila. Nicole, this we have to ask you. You seem to swear by pairing pickles with gin, hence the name of your website, "Gin and Pickles." What makes it such a good combination?
DONNELLYIt's a good martini tradition. It started off with the Gibson with the pickled olives. I have to admit to shamelessly stealing the pickled ramps I like in my martinis from my friend Gina who's a bartender, and it just goes from there. You can preserve your own sour cherries if you're a Manhattan fan. I make cherries for my dad and my boyfriend all the time for those drinks. There's a lot you can do at the bar and pickled foods, too.
NNAMDIAnd get pickled in the process.
NNAMDIWe got an email from Penny, even though we're running out of time, who said, "I want to make my mother's 14-day sweet cucumber pickles, but the recipe calls for alum which I don't want to use. I've been told that the pickles won't be crisp without the alum. What can I substitute?"
DONNELLYBall has just come out -- Ball, the commercial canning company has come out with a substitute for the type of alum and lye processes that used to be used, and it's called Pickle Fresh, I believe, and it's these little pellets that you can put in your pickling jars with your pickle, and that might help.
NNAMDINicole Donnelly is a certified master food preserver and a pickling and preserving enthusiast. She blogs at "Gin and Pickles." Thank you for joining us.
NNAMDILogan Cox is the executive chef at Ripple Restaurant in the Cleveland Park area of Washington D.C. Logan, thank you for joining us.
COXThanks for having me, Kojo.
NNAMDIEd Bruske is a certified master gardener and the co-founder of the group D.C. Urban Gardeners. He blogs at "The Slow Cook." Always a pleasure.
BRUSKEThank you, Kojo.
NNAMDIAnd thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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