Top Chef Hugh Acheson on What Makes a Good Pickle

Pickle enthusiast Hugh Acheson let us pick his brain about pickles in advance of International Can-It-Forward Day on August 16

'Pick a Pickle' author Hugh Acheson will host International Can-It-Forward Day at the Brooklyn Borough Hall Farmers Market on Saturday, August 16.

Top Chef, restaurateur, and self-identified pot-stirrer (according to his Twitter bio) Hugh Acheson loves pickles, and it’s not a small love. Earlier this year, the chef released a whole “cookbooklet” of pickle recipes created in his kitchen, Pick a Pickle: 50 Recipes for Pickles, Relishes, and Fermented Snacks.

On Saturday, August 16, chef Acheson will host International Can-It-Forward Day, presented by Jarden Home Brands (the makers of your beloved Ball brand mason jars and home canning products) at the Brooklyn Borough Hall Farmers Market.

The event will be broadcast live on and viewers will be able to chat live with Hugh and have questions answered in real time.

In advance of Can-It-Forward Day, we had the chance to ask chef Acheson a few of our burning questions about the art of pickling.

What’s the most basic pickle recipe that you think people who have just begun to pickle should have in their arsenal?

Bread and butter or dill pickles are so simple to make and are what most people think of when they hear the word “pickle.” My new book, Pick a Pickle, has great recipes for both those varieties! I also love this recipe for Dilly Tomatoes. Tomatoes are great this time of year and people are always looking for new ways to preserve them. The brine is a pretty basic pickle brine, but people don’t always think to pickle tomatoes, so it’s sort of a twist on a classic.

To you, what makes a good pickle, and a bad pickle?

A great pickle has balance of natural sweetness to acidity. Bad pickles are too salty or too sweet or too acidic.

What are some underused spices that you think deserve a little more attention in the pickle world?

Coriander seed is a lively contender for my favorite spice right now. It’s great with cucumbers. And I adore the mix of fenugreek and tomatoes. But fenugreek is one of those spices where a little goes a long way.

From top to bottom, can you rank your favorite things to pickle?

Cucumber, okra, carrots, peppers… I can’t think of a good summer vegetable that I don’t like to pickle.

Do you think it’s possible to convert a non- pickle-lover with the perfect recipe?

With the right recipe, anything is possible!  I’ll actually be converting all non-pickle lovers next Saturday, August 16th at Brooklyn Borough Hall Farmers Market, where I’ll be hosting International Can-It-Forward Day, presented by Jarden Home Brands. I’ll be demoing some of my favorite recipes that even novices can make, like the Dilly Tomatoes. If you’re not in the area or can’t make it to the market, the entire demo from 10 a.m.- to 2:00 p.m. will also be streamed live online at I challenge even the non-believers to tune in. They might learn something new!

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Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.