Feature image by Jeffrey Coolidge via Getty Images
Welcome back to It’s Time To Get Into, my grocery shopping column with an emphasis on ready-made products, snacks, and no-cook or low-cook recipes! Because sometimes you simply don’t have the time!!!!!! We’ve covered tinned fish in all its versatility, beef and meat and non-meat jerkies in all their simplicity, and now I’m here to talk to you about PICKLES. But not just regular cucumber-style pickles! Other pickles! Which I have dubbed ~alt pickles. Here are some pickled snacks I think you should throw into your shopping cart — along with some tips n tricks for how to eat them. If you want to make your own pickles (very fun and rewarding!), we have a couple past guides for that, including Molly’s guide to canning garlic dill pickles, my Happy Hour At Home with a few quick-pickle guides, and this list of pickle recipes. But again, It’s Time To Get Into is for when you don’t have the time and just want to spice up your grocery list! Here are my pickled snack recommendations!
I always ALWAYS have a jar of pickled jalapeños in my refrigerator (and usually a can in my pantry, too). They’re good on nachos, but they’re also an excellent upgrade for a plain ol’ turkey and cheese sandwich. Or my personal favorite easy sandwich: cold leftover rotisserie chicken (from Publix!) sliced and put on a mayonnaised sub roll with a bunch of these bad boys thrown in.
Pickled beets are a top-tier pickled snack, and I am going to tell you two different no-cook ways to enjoy these baby beets in the form of a salad and a cocktail.
The salad: Just pour some of these beets into a bowl (or the entire jar if you’re making this as an appetizer for a party) and add goat cheese crumbles, chopped walnuts, fresh dill, and black pepper. Easy and delicious!
The cocktail: Put 2oz of vodka or gin in a shaker with ice as well as 1oz of juice from the beet jar. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with one whole baby beet. You’ve got yourself a beetini!
Aunt Nellie’s sweet and sour red cabbage is also great. Idk who Aunt Nellie is, but she Did That.
Now, we’re not talking regular pickles in this column, but if we WERE talking regular pickles, I would tell you that grocery store pickle spears AND grocery store pickle chips don’t get better than Grillo’s. The spears are snappy perfection, and the pickle chips are so garlicky they’re a little bit spicy (I actually prefer the kick of the pickle chips to the kick of the hot spears — it’s a much different kind of spice). If you do buy these regular pickle products, eat them within two weeks or they go mushy, and save the brine for pickletinis or salad dressing ingredients or just like shots of plain pickle juice which I like to occasionally do?
Anyway, Grillo’s also gets in the alt pickle game with this pickle de gallo, which shouldn’t work and yet DOES. It’s exactly what it sounds like — pico de gallo but with pickles. So it’s going to be a little more acidic and briney than your standard pico. It’s good with tortilla or potato chips, but it’s REALLY good atop a hot dog.
Speaking of hot dogs, I’ve long believed the most underrated hot dog topping is cole slaw!!! This pickled salad is like a more vinegary version of that same concept. There’s a slight kick to it (if you couldn’t tell, hot pickled things are my jam). It’s almost like a sauerkraut in its flavor profile and texture. A pickle slaw! You can put it on your grilled cheese, too. (Though my favorite grilled cheese hack is to add kimchi.)
Now, mango pickle definitely a thing I usually prefer to make myself at home (I feel the same way about kimchi), but as this column is for when we simply don’t have the time, I WILL say that store bought can indeed, in the words of Ina Garten, be fine. Head to the international section of your chain grocery store or to an international/specialty/Asian market to find some mango pickle, which can be served alongside just about anything. It’s the perfect blend of sour and spicy. I’m a big believer that most hot food — but especially curries, stews, and rice dishes — should be served with a side of mango pickle and sliced raw red onion.
Dilly beans!!!! I love dilly beans (which, if you’re not familiar, are just pickled green beans). They are extremely munchable just on their own, and they also instantly upgrade a bloody mary. I’ve found these specific spicy ones at Albertson’s and Kroger. For a mild option, try Tillen Farms.
This is another one I like to make at home, but as far as store-bought goes, head to H Mart if you’re lucky enough to live in a city with one (I do not anymore!!!) or your local Asian mart for a pack of pickled daikon or radish. Pickled daikon makes a great n simple banchan as well as a topping for instant ramen or a rice bowl.
Pickled things don’t have to just be veggies, baby! Yes, I also included pickled herring in the tinned fish guide, but listen, I’ve got family in Norway, so I’m always pushing a pickled herring agenda. Vita is the most common brand found in stores, but I think it’s just okay! Blue Hill Bay is sold at Whole Foods and more expensive grocers, but it’s worth it. Eat it on its own or on fishy toast.
Okay, this is a bonus alt pickle snack because it is extremely regional and niche and therefore not as readily easy to find as the rest of the above!!!!! In fact, it’s very possible you can only get this specific brand of pickled bologna in Michigan, where I lived for four years. Please, if you live in a place with ANY pickled bologna, go get some and tell me about it so I can live vicariously through you, because I think the only way I’ll be able to have pickled bologna in Miami is if I make it my damn self. Here’s how to eat pickled bologna: sliced, on a Ritz cracker, with a chunky slice of cheddar cheese. THAT’S IT! For another pickled meat snack, these pickled pigs feet are easier to find and taste great straight out the jar.
Okay, I’m probably gonna go write a personal essay about pickled bologna bye!!!!! Have some pickled snack recommendations of your own? Throw them in the comments. Happy snacking! 🥒