The Vegetable Diaries: Pickled Kale

Things I like: sidewalk dinners, walking in the rain, hummus.

Things I don't like: roller coasters, scary movies, sour pickles.

Go ahead, raise your hands in horror, drop your jaws in shame. Everyone loves deli pickles, you say! Children fight for them. Adults sing their praises. And now that there is a brand-new 2nd Avenue Deli uptown, a shiny generation of gherkin fans will surely emerge.

Except for me, of course.

Why? Well, there's no sense in trying to convince you to join my side so I won't go into my distaste. But here's the clincher: hate pickles, love other foods that are pickled. Take a moment to let those words completely blow your mind.

What's the meaning behind all of this back and forth over brine? Well, that's just it. The brine. While I don't like it on cucumbers, I've grown to be a big fan of its effect on many other vegetables, including greens, onions and carrots. Whether made spicy, sweet or salty, a new food is born to amp up the flavor of whatever it's added to. And since a basic brine can be made from water, salt, a bit of sugar and vinegar (or even just salt and water), the whole process is an enjoyable way to preserve some of those seriously awesome summer vegetables that you already have that will be gone come fall. I know: Eek, fall! But it's quite soon. Pickle now.

Besides being tastefully complex and a nice rainy day project, pickled foods will contain beneficial bacteria after the fermentation process, as well as whatever vitamins and minerals they contained in their natural state. Of course, many pickled products that you can find on a supermarket shelf are sodium-laced and contain preservatives, so they should be avoided.

Pickled Kale


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 TBSP light brown sugar
  • 1 TBSP salt
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (I used red wine vinegar but white vinegar would work nicely too)
  • Handful of peppercorns
  • 6 large kale leaves


  • Sanitize your pickling jar by submerging in boiling water for 10 minutes. In a small saucepan, combine water, sugar, salt and vinegar. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and stir until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.
  • Stuff kale leaves into jar and add peppercorns. Pour brine liquid over kale in jar and seal.
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 days before eating.

Mallory Stuchin, a native Manhattanite, is the food editor for She is also a natural foods chef and has worked for Mario Batali. Her writing has previously been featured in The New York Observer, Glamour and Maxim, as well as other publications in New York and Los Angeles. Mallory has also studied Ashtanga yoga in Mysore, India and has taught classes at PURE Yoga and New York University. You can follow her on Twitter @malstuch.

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