To make watermelon-rind pickles,
which are popular in the South, he cuts
off the watermelon skin, but leaves ¼
inch each of rind and melon and cures
it overnight packed in sugar and salt.
This breaks down the cellular structure
and softens it. Then, he rinses it off and
adds apple cider vinegar, anise, sugar
and a little salt. “You’re looking for a
more sweet profile,” he says. He puts a
cap on the container and lets it sit for at
least 12 hours.
He likes to use yellow watermelon,
and the result is almost crayon yellow.
He serves it as a side with watercress
alongside grilled trout flavored with
salt, pepper and lemon juice. “The
summer flavors are refreshing,” he says.
Green strawberries are perfect for
preserved sweetness at Bondir. Joy
pickles them in chamomile tea and
fresh lemon and ginger. He opens
the jars later in the summer to add
complexity to dishes.
In the case of pickled peaches, Joy begins
with the fruit at peak ripeness. For the
pickling liquid, he combines white wine
vinegar, sugar, water, star anise, fennel
seed, bay leaf and coriander.
Preserving the short spring season, Joy
likes to source and pickle fiddlehead
fern and ramps. He adds more vinegar
to the fiddlehead fern liquid, given the
fibrous nature of the vegetable. But
the end result adds an acidic crunch
to lamb tartare or raw fish dishes. He
likes to “paint” ramps red by using red
wine vinegar with a bit of red wine
and such warming spices as fennel
seed, star anise, clove, ginger and
methods and add-ins
One of the most common pickling
methods is water-bath canning,
says Kowalski. He was the primary
contributor and reviewer for the CIA’s
Preserving: Putting Up the Season's Bounty
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013).
This method begins with boiling the
containers and lids to sterilize them,
then adding in the items to be pickled
and pouring over them a heated saline
or vinegar solution up to ¼ or ½ inch
of the top of the container. Then, stir
the contents to remove any air pockets,
wipe the rim clean and dry and close
the lid. Next, completely submerge the
jars in a canner or a pot of water with a
rack on the bottom with 1 or 2 inches
of space between each jar, and simmer
about 10 minutes in water. Remove the
jars onto towels or a rack to cool. “As
it cools, it creates suction. All the air is
out and seals it tightly,” Kowalski says.
When pickling fruit, Shutta suggests
using a sweeter vinegar, such as apple
cider or champagne vinegar. The goal
is a sweet rather than salty pickle. He
adds in such aromatics as cinnamon,
mace or allspice.
left: Keith Shutta, executive
chef at TART.
right: John Kowalski, chef/
professor at The Culinary
Institute of America. Photo
by Keith Ferris.
opposite clockwise from
left: 1. Pickled red onions
and watercress garnish
the fried chicken sandwich
at TART. Photo by Cherokee
Neas. 2. Brendan Joy, chef
de cuisine at Bondir. 3.
Bondir’s chicken galantine
with pickled shallot greens
and pickled crabapple
jelly was served at the
James Beard House. Photo
by Joan Garvin/James