May 29, 2012

Mistakes and Low-Sodium Pickled Cherries

Last week I posted about Labor day and roasted garbanzo beans.

Turns out, it was Memorial day.

This is what some people refer to as a “mistake.”

And like frittatas, it is something I make with healthy frequency. At least once a day. And that’s probably a generous underestimate. For the frittatas and the mistakes.

As for this latest mishap? It is definitely more embarrassing than misreading the package of Gluten Flour while baking gluten free crumble (which I did last week). But way less disastrous than setting my kitchen oven on fire while making tortillas (which I did last year).

So in terms of the mistake scale, this one is pretty average. And as long as it didn’t get in the way of your BBQ’ing, it is something I can live with.

But here’s the really interesting part: this little miswritten post didn’t end in inedible food nor a visit from the local fire team. In actuality, it led to a lot of emails and comments — friendly of course — from YOU!

One little mis-holiday and all of sudden, there you were. The voices behind the computer. Saying hello. And reminding me to take a look at my calendar next time.

This, my friends, is what I like to call the “power of a mistake”

Sure, cups of spilled sesame seeds, burnt pieces of toast, and cupcakes baked without eggs can lead to mess and disaster. But it can also lead to discovery, both in your cooking and yourself.

In these moments, if you have wit, creativity, and a dust vac handy, the spilled sesame can transform into a crunchy crust for chicken; the hardened bread will get softened in pudding; and that cake…well, maybe you’ll realize it’s better to give your friend meatballs instead and call it a day.

I love my mistakes. And apparently, so do you.

And like measuring cups and no-salt added tomato sauce, mistakes are an essential ingredient for low-sodium cooking. Because if you’re willing to take on the challenge of salt-free’ing the foods you love, you’ll make missteps and miscalculations and lots of malformed cupcakes. But if you enjoy those mistakes and look for the lesson, than you’ll also end up making things like stove-free pasta and salt-free pickled cherries.

Chow on.

Want more of my mistakes? I’ll be speaking at BlogHerFood 2012 along with Julie Tisner of Bad Home Cooking and Joy Wilson of Joy the Baker on Embracing Imperfections.

LOW-SODIUM PICKLED CHERRIES (or salt-free cocktail “olives”)

makes one 16-oz mason jar


  • 2 to 3 cups pitted cherries (fresh or frozen, unsweetened)
  • 1/2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly diced
  • 1 medium orange, zest grated (or peeled) and juiced
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Stuff the cherries, ginger, and orange zest into your mason jar or container. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, mix 1 cup water with the apple cider vinegar, sugar, juice from the orange, black peppercorns, turmeric, and cinnamon. Bring the pickling liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the liquid to cool, at least 20 minutes or longer if you are using plastic containers.

When the liquid is lukewarm to the touch, carefully pour it into your container, covering the cherries. If there is not enough liquid, add a bit more apple cider vinegar. And if you have extra cherries, don’t panic. The ones in the container most likely will shrink a bit in the hot liquid, so if when there’s extra space, go ahead and add the leftover cherries to the container.

Finally, place the lid on the container and close tightly. Give it 5 or 6 good shakes to mix up all the pickling juices and stick it in the fridge to cool.

In 48 hours, the cherries will be ready for munching. Resist the urge to taste before then, because the longer you wait, the more “pickly” they will be. But do try to finish them off within 2 weeks — which won’t be hard. And serve them on their own or as a compliment to a cheese plate (for your salt-eating friends) or give it as a gift to the host or hostess at your next dinner party.

+ Sodium Count: practically sodium-free

Cupcake May 29, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Right on , SG!! Mistakes are how we learn and laugh and keep it and ourselves and our process all in the right perspective. Thanks for the reminder to be kind and gentle with myself as I too make a ton of mistakes. Love your pickled cherries. : ^) And anything pickled you conjure up.

Susan Tweeton May 29, 2012 at 2:45 pm

What a great idea! I would have never thought of using cherries for olives. Since it’s definitely cherry season here in California, I’m going to give these a try. I appreciate your “warning” about using up these refrigerator pickles within two weeks and the high ratio of vinegar to water. Safety is important when dealing with pickled products, even refrigerated pickles.

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