There are still many types of wonderful apples at my local grocery store, but there are fewer than there were the week before, and even fewer than there were a month ago. Apple season is drawing to a close, friends, but you can make it last a bit longer—or make a mediocre out-of-season apple taste outstanding—with a quick pickle.
It didn’t occur to me that apples were a thing that should be pickled until a Midwest friend called me a philistine for never having done so. Honestly, this was fair, because pickled apples are extremely good. Like most pickled things, they’re excellent partners for rich, fatty, salty foods. They’re sour and sweet and provide a bit of crunch, which makes them a nice addition to anything with cheese in it. I have been enjoying them in pimento cheese sandwiches, an act I am referring to as “the best decision I’ve made all year.” There are many recipes out there for pickled apples, but I like to sweeten them with maple syrup (an idea I got from Food52) and season them with juniper berries (an idea I got from gin). Obviously vinegar is also involved. You can use white, but I find red wine vinegar makes for a prettier pickle. To make them yourself, you will need:
Combine everything but the apple in a sauce pan and heat it to just boiling. Remove from the heat, let the brine cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a bowl set inside another bowl that has been filled with ice. While the brine is cooling, slice the apples thinly with a mandoline or knife. (I just grab the whole apple and slice it horizontally using my mandoline, then cut those slices in half and cut out the core.) Place the slices in a clean jar, pour the brine on top, then let everything chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Pickled apples will keep at least a week in the refrigerator.