In the Kitchen with Chef Edward Kim: Pickling Fruits

Most people look for each and every way to make their fruits and veggies more appealing, especially during the dull winter months. Even if you enjoy the taste of them, it can be hard to enjoy them enough to get the right amount put into our daily diets. Kale chips, banana chips and smoothies…OH MY! What can you do when you’re looking to find a way to really enjoy your fruits? How about pickling them! Pickling is done by anaerobic fermentation in brine or vinegar and gives an interesting and unique flavor making the taste extremely enjoyable.

Chef Edward Kim of Ruxbin and Mott St has been experimenting with pickling a variety of fruits lately, and was kind enough to answer a few of our burning questions. See below for Chef’s answers and let us know what you’ll be pickling this weekend!

What are your favorite fruits to pickle? Which is the easiest? The Hardest?

Usually stone fruits. Stone fruits tend to be easier because in general they’re firmer and can stand up to a pickling liquid without falling apart and losing their structural integrity. I also think that under-ripe fruits work very well for pickling (e.g. green mango and green strawberries), as their firmness and tartness naturally work well with the acidity that is introduced through the pickling process. Harder fruits to pickle tend to be the fruits that are softer (e.g. berries, or fruits that are perfectly ripe).

How did you start experimenting with pickling fruits?

It was a natural evolution from tasting and experimenting with dishes, and wanting to add more texture and flavor to complete them. Seasonality also plays a role, as pickling items extends our ability to use certain ingredients in the colder months. During that period, many fruits aren’t in their best natural, unadulterated state; an under-ripe fruit might taste better pickled, and with practice and experimentation, become something special in and of itself.

Can you give our readers tips/techniques/ways to pickle fruit?

Start with firmer fruits (e.g. apples and pears) and any pickling brine. Omit the salt in the beginning, and then add salt at the end, seasoning the brine to taste. Experiment a bit, and within a few tries, you’ll have the product you want! We tend to use pickling recipes with rice wine vinegar because it’s pretty mild and won’t overtake the unique flavor of the fruit you’re attempting to pickle.

We can’t forget about the vegetables! What are your favorite veggies to pickle?

Anything that’s in great shape, but can’t be used immediately. My least favorite vegetable to pickle—or the one we haven’t had much luck with, anyway—is brussel sprouts.

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ABOUT CHEF KIM EDWARD:
“Born and raised in Chicago’s northwest suburbs, Chef Edward Kim moved to the Big Apple, where he attended New York University, earning a B.A. in political science with the intention of becoming an attorney. Choosing to go in a different direction, Chef Kim enrolled in Pasadena’s Le Cordon Bleu, where he rekindled his passion for food and cooking, and graduated with a culinary degree.

After culinary school, Chef Kim honed his skills in various New York and Los Angeles kitchens under a number of acclaimed chefs and other respected individuals in the culinary community. He served as chef de cuisine at Elements Catering (Pasadena, CA); commis during an externship at Per Se; and garde manager at Meson G (Los Angeles, CA).

In 2011, Chef Kim – with the help of his wife, Jenny Kim, sister, Vicki Kim, and friend, Nate Chung – opened his first restaurant, Ruxbin, in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Two years later, Chef Kim and his partners opened their second concept, Mott St, a more casual restaurant that showcases family-style fare in a relaxed environment.

Chef Kim’s goal is both simple and difficult: to make good food. His restaurants have been honored with awards and accolades from Michelin, bon appetit, The New York Times, Food & Wine, GQ, Details, and The Chicago Tribune. Chef Kim crafts a straight-forward yet progressive menu drawing from his extensive culinary background, classic French training, Asian heritage, and widespread travels.”

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