Travel Tastes

Getting Pickled at Fairmont Banff Springs

While staying at the Fairmont Banff Springs, I got pickling lesson in Grapes, one of the restaurants in the historic hotel which opened in 1888. Honestly I never knew there was so much that goes into pickled vegetables! The group I was with got to be guinea pigs with an experiential experience for future hotel guest. I gave it a huge thumbs up! Tait, the pickling expert amongst the hotel’s chefs, walked us through the pickling process using the immersion in vinegar technique. For a quick pickle he told us to use equal parts sugar, water and vinegar. From asparagus to cauliflower, you can pickle just about any veggie.

Tait gave us all kinds of tips and tricks when pickling. Since you are using vinegar as the main preserving agent you have to be selective in the vinegar you use because it’s a flavor enhancer. Tait suggested using white vinegar. Other options would be rice wine vinegar or other lightly flavored vinegars. Balsamic vinegar is a no go in pickling. The ratio of vinegar to sugar changes the taste of the pickle. For a more acidic pickle, add more vinegar and less sugar. For a sweeter pickle, do the opposite of more sugar and less vinegar. If you’re a newbie pickler like me, stick with the 1:1:1 ratio of vinegar, sugar and water for the best result.

For our group we had four different jars filled to the brim with vegetables and herbs. Tait said the chopped up watermelon rinds would be great on pork or in a slaw or salad. The carrot were done with coriander, mustard and peppercorns. The mushrooms were spiced with thyme and tarragon. The shallots were done with mustard, coriander, thyme and a bay leaf. Tait said if you’re going to do cucumbers or mushrooms it’s a great idea to cure them first with salt. For brightly colored vegetables like carrots, asparagus, and green beans, it’s a good idea to blanch them for 1-2 minutes then shock them in an ice water bath. That helps to preserve the bright colors.

I brought home a jar of the pickled carrots and a jar of the pickled mushrooms. I served both of them with some cheeses, hummus and other nibbles when my cousins stopped by my new condo for happy hour. I was really excited to try both. I’d never had pickled mushrooms so they were a treat. I was surprised how much I liked them. I’m a carrot anything fan so I knew I’d love the pickled carrots…and so did my cousins. I can’t wait to try making pickled carrots myself!

Grapes Pickled Carrots
This simple recipe is what is served in Grapes Wine Bar. The pickled carrots are great in salads, as a side, or just as an appetizer, which is how I served them along with pickled mushrooms and

You Will Need…
8 Small-Medium Carrots
250 ml (8.5 oz) White vinegar
250 g (1.25 cups) White Sugar
250 ml (8.5 oz) Water
1 tsp Coriander Seeds (Whole)
1 tsp Mustard Seeds (Whole)
1 tsp Black Peppercorns (Whole)
3 Bay Leaves
2 Cloves
1 L Ice Water

Quarter the carrots lengthwise, blanch or steam for 1-2 minutes until flexible but not cooked through. Remove the carrots and immediately submerge in ice water. This will stop them from cooking and keep them brightly colored.

While the carrots are cooling add vinegar sugar and water to a medium pot
and put on high heat.

Add spices to a small pan and toast over low heat until just fragrant.

Add carrots and spices to a 1 L mason jar (or separate equally into smaller jars). Once the vinegar has come to a boil add it to the mason jar. Let sit uncovered until at room temperature and then close and refrigerate for up to three months and enjoy your Pickled Carrots!

For additional flavor combinations, here are a few ideas of what goes with carrots, cucumbers and mushrooms.

Carrots: cloves, oregano, coriander and apple cider vinegar

Cucumbers: garlic, dill, fennel and crushed chilies

Mushrooms: tarragon, star-anise, pink peppercorns and champagne vinegar

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