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New York's Best Pickles

Spicy-Wax-Beans copy.jpgThankfully, pickles aren’t seasonal, but we find ourselves eating a lot more of them in the summertime.  Now that the weather’s hot, a cool, crunchy bowl of pickled vegetables sounds a lot more appealing than warm, sauteed or fried vegetables.  Chefs and artisanal food shops have become so creative with everything edible, including pickles. (Our love for them borders on a fetish.)   There’s a lot more to pickles than classic Kosher Dills these days, like pickled okra, beets, and  Here’s a few of our favorite shops to stock up in the pickle department.

Sour Puss Pickles
Various Vendors
Website: www.sourpusspickles.com

If you This Brooklyn-based company produces small batches of all things pickled, sourced from New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and even a rooftop garden in Brooklyn.  (The vinegars for pickling are from nearby as well.)  Sour Puss Pickles makes everything from classic cucumber pickles to curried cauliflower, ginger carrots, roasted beets, and green tomato relish, jarred by the owners, Chris Forbes and Evelyn Evers.  Chris’s favorite is the peppered okra, which  won a Good Food Award.  You can find them at the Fulton Stall Market, New Amsterdam Market and William Sonoma, among other shops.

Queens Kickshaw
40-17 Broadway, btwn. Steinway St. & 41st Sts.
Astoria, Queens
(718)777-0913
Website: www.thequeenskickshaw.com

This Astoria spot tends to attract the cheese-obsessed, but the pickles deserve just as much attention (and yes, we identify as some of those).  Case in point: Queens Kickshaw’s Gouda grilled cheese, served on a brioche with guava jam, black bean hummus and, most importantly, pickled jalapenos, which are a game changer.   We’re not done yet.  Head to the “Sides” section of the menu and you’ll find miso-mustard pickles listed unassumingly.  These are hands-down some of the best pickles we’ve had to date.   The pickles are just as creative as the sandwiches, one of which has pickled blueberries as well as asparagus, cauliflower and quail eggs.

The Pickle Guys
49 Essex St, near Grand St.
(212)656-9739
Website: www.pickleguys.com

No pickle list (or tour of the Lower East Side, for that matter) is complete without these guys.  Alan Kaufman’s shop is packed with barrels, each one filled with a different kind of pickle. You can have them anyway you like them here — new (barely brined) to half sour, ¾ sour and full sour.  Or you could opt for sweet gherkins or pickled tomatillos.  We go every time we’re on Essex.  (If you celebrate Passover, The Pickle Guys freshly grind horseradish for the occasion wearing gas masks curiously enough, but it’s something to see.)

spicyproduct.jpgD.P. Chutney Collective
Various Vendors
Website: dpchutneycollective

Does chutney count as a pickled product?  We like to think so. (Isn’t it pickled fruit, after all?)  And even if it doesn’t, these chutneys are so creative we’re squeezing them onto this list anyway.  Drake Page creates terrifically original preserved fruits, most of which come from upstate New York and Long Island.  Try pairing the curried peach chutney with grilled pork chops, or dip pita bread into the Middle Eastern zucchini relish.  Their website is full of recipes (like quinoa burgers with their Chantico Chocolate and Chile Chutney), including a chutney or two you can make at home.

Skimkim Foods
Various Vendors
Website: skimkim.3dcartstores.com

Sam Kim launched Skimkim Foods to introduce the masses to Korea’s wealth of condiments. She utilizes local ingredients to make all types of products, including Bloody Kim Jong-il mix (her take on a Bloody Mary) and kimchee (Korean pickled vegetables).  The exact blend changes weekly, depending on what’s available at the farmers’ market, but the basic brine doesn’t.  Korean red pepper flakes, agave syrup, salt and rice flour all lend delicious bite to the likes of Brussels sprouts, sunchokes and cauliflower.  Delivery is available for most of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

McClure’s Pickles
Various Vendors
Website: www.mcclurespickles.com

This import from Michigan uses Lala McClure’s recipes (she’s the owner’s grandma) to make these outstanding pickles.  They also have a test kitchen in Brooklyn, which makes us feel just fine about including them on our New York pickle list (we probably would have anyway). A deceptively simple list of products (spicy pickles, garlic dill relish, etc.) belies complex-tasting spears and spreads.  (Little tip: We like to remove the hot red peppers from a jar of McClure’s spicy pickles and chop them into tuna salad.) A sandwich created for the pickle on the side.  That’s something we can really get behind.

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