It’s Time to Embrace Hot Pickle Summer

It’s Time to Embrace Hot Pickle Summer
Photo: Claire Lower

In a development fictional scientists are calling “not really that surprising,” I have grown obsessed with cooking cucumbers, both pickled and plain. First I cooked some of the latter over coals, then I turned my attention to ranch-fried pickles, and now I’m all about — and I mean all about — grilled pickles.

Grilled pickles are to grilled cucumbers as corned beef is to smoked brisket — they both benefit from smoky heat of my Weber, but only one of them is brined. But unlike brisket — corned or not — grilled pickles can be prepared in a matter of minutes.

I’ve written about grilled pickles before, but the order of operations was slightly different. Grilling vegetables and then pickling them certainly adds a bit of dimension (and char), but pickling and then grilling creates even more fun flavours. The sugars in the brining liquid caramelize and char, and the results taste pretty fantastic. The tartness of the pickle is slightly tamed, while the savouriness is heightened. It is a pleasing pickle.

How to grill a pickle

Grilling a pickle takes about three minutes, so I like to throw them on after (or right before) grilling a steak or chicken, while the grates are still super hot. Take the pickles out of their brine, blot them to remove excess moisture, then brush or spray them with a thin coat of neutral oil. Grill over super hot coals (or over high heat on a gas grill) until the skin side is blistered and the fleshy side shows some nice little grill marks.

Photo: Claire Lower Photo: Claire Lower

Let pickles cool a bit, then eat them whole like you would any other pickle, or chop them up and toss them in a salad — any salad. Green salads, potato salad, macaroni salad, and tuna or chicken salad would all benefit from the addition of these charred, salty spears. If you don’t eat them all in one sitting — and that is a big “if” — you can store them in the brine in their original jar along with the un-grilled pickles, so don’t be afraid of making “too many.”

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