Perfect pickles in 30 minutes from Doug Levy on Vimeo.

Although pickles have a history as a “slow food,” a way to extend the life of fresh vegetables long past their harvest, sometimes there’s a need for pickles right now, not after days or weeks of curing in brine. Enter kitchen chemistry, or “molecular gastronomy,” and you can have real pickles in about a half hour.

The process actually is quite simple. Using a whipped cream canister, you can force the brine into the vegetables in minutes instead of waiting for the brine to be absorbed organically. Food grade nitrous oxide pushes the brine into the vegetable cells without influencing the flavor, same as it does when making whipped cream.

The process works, and works well, for just about any kind of pickles. (The technique is also quite useful for other infusing flavors in other recipes, too, such as quickly marinated meats or flavored spirits.)

A few words about equipment you will need:

  • A whipping siphon. Any whipping siphon will work. Consider purchasing one that is intended for both hot and cold use. The one I have cost about $35 on Amazon.com (affiliate link.) You can also buy a kit that contains a whipping siphon and small packets of agar-agar, xanthan gum, and gelatin for various other molecular gastronomy kitchen fun.
  • Nitrous oxide cartridges. Kitchen siphons use either carbon dioxide (CO2) or nitrous oxide (N2O,) depending on what you are making. CO2 is used for carbonated beverages. N2O is for infusions, including fast pickles. There are many different brands of cartridges on the market. Cheaper ones are from China or other Asian countries. Others are from Europe and claim higher levels of purity. Here is an article on a website that sells cartridges that gives a good overview.  I bought 50 from Amazon for about 50 cents each (affiliate link.)

Here’s the recipe to follow.

Fast pickles using whipping siphon
Print Recipe
Using a whipping siphon may not be intuitive, but the same process that infuses cream with air also can be used to force brine into cucumbers or other vegetables to make real pickles in 20 minutes. This recipe is adapted from http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/quick-bread-and-butter-pickles.
Servings Prep Time
4 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 20 minutes
Fast pickles using whipping siphon
Print Recipe
Using a whipping siphon may not be intuitive, but the same process that infuses cream with air also can be used to force brine into cucumbers or other vegetables to make real pickles in 20 minutes. This recipe is adapted from http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/quick-bread-and-butter-pickles.
Servings Prep Time
4 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 20 minutes
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Slice cucumbers evenly (a mandoline works great for this,) then place in colander and sprinkle salt over them. Set aside. Combine remaining ingredients, then heat in saucepan while stirring. Remove from heat when sugar dissolves. Allow the brine to cool. (Place the saucepan in a larger pan with ice water to accelerate this.) Add the cucumber and onion to the brine, mix completely.
  2. Place the cucumber mixture into the chamber of a clean whipping siphon. Do not fill more than 2/3rds full. Close whipping siphon. Use one cartridge of nitrous oxide, following instructions that come with the whipping siphon. Shake the siphon and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  3. After 20 minutes, cover the nozzle of the siphon with a measuring cup or other container to prevent brine from being squirted on yourself or your kitchen. Depress handle to release the gas, then unscrew siphon top. The pickles are ready to serve.
Recipe Notes

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Summer veggie pasta saute.
This hearty summer vegetable pasta saute takes less than 20 minutes. Shown here accompanied with arugula salad.

 

Quick summer vegetable pasta saute
Print Recipe
Here's a super-easy way to cook a healthy, flavorful meal using fresh vegetables and almost any kind of pasta. Great for weeknights, and leftovers are perfect for the lunch bag.
Servings Prep Time
2 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 5 minutes
Quick summer vegetable pasta saute
Print Recipe
Here's a super-easy way to cook a healthy, flavorful meal using fresh vegetables and almost any kind of pasta. Great for weeknights, and leftovers are perfect for the lunch bag.
Servings Prep Time
2 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 5 minutes
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Place the pasta in a 10" or larger skillet. Add cold water to cover. Add salt generously. Bring to boil, then reduce heat. Continue cooking until pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes. Add additional cold water if necessary.
  2. While pasta is cooking, dice the squash and onion. Cut the green beans (or snap peas) into 1/2-inch pieces.
  3. Add olive oil to sauté pan over medium heat, then add vegetables. Add salt and pepper and toss. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. When the pasta is nearly ready, drain any remaining water. Add the vegetables to the pasta in the large skillet, toss.
  5. Add cheese and basil right before serving.
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