Daniel M. Clark

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Cherry Flavored Pickles: The Koolickle Experiment

In Brief

Are you getting tired of artificially flavored popsicles and ice cream sandwiches? How about a cool, refreshing, artificially-flavored pickle instead?


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Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Are you getting tired of artificially flavored popsicles and ice cream sandwiches? How about a cool, refreshing, artificially-flavored pickle instead?

A version of this post was first published on 10/26/2007.

Alton Brown, Feasting on Asphalt | Daniel M. Clark
Pictured: a cool guy

I first saw the so-called “Koolickle” on an episode of Feasting on Asphalt 2: The River Run, one of the 412 shows that Alton Brown does for the Food Network. Don’t get me wrong, Alton is the coolest guy on television.

So, what’s the story with the pickle… thing? Someone down south discovered that if you soak a pickle in cherry Kool-Aid, you get a delicious treat. Sound weird? It is.

I next saw the Koolickle on a new episode of Good Eats (# EA1110) that laid out exactly how to create them. Alton removed the pickles from a large jar, then used their brine in place of water to mix up the Kool-Aid. He replaced the pickles in the cherry Kool-Aid-flavored brine and let them soak for a few days.

A pickle. Seriously. It's a pickle.
You can't unsee this.

The result is a bright red pickle that looks about as natural as bright blue hair. I had to try it. The problem was, in between the time that I saw the Good Eats episode and the time I wanted to make it myself, I’d forgotten how Alton made them. Did he replace the water with brine or simply soak the pickles in regularly-mixed Kool-Aid?

The Koolickle Experiment

I decided to do the easy thing and soak the pickles in regularly-mixed Kool-Aid. I figured that soaking a pair of pickles in a small container of Kool-Aid (while I drank the rest) would be a reasonable test since I wouldn’t be ruining an entire jar of pickles if it turns out I didn’t like them.

I started with a jar of Claussen Dill Pickles, sliced in half. I mixed up my cherry Kool-Aid and filled a small plastic container with some of it. I added two of the pickle halves and sealed with a lid. I threw the container into the refrigerator and waited—but not for very long. I decided to test along the way, cutting off about a third of the first pickle later on day one. I finished the first pickle and cut a small amount off of the second on day two, and finished the second pickle on day three.

I observed a few things about my little Koolickle experiment.

  • After three days, the pickles had not soaked all the way through. I attribute the result to the pure Kool-Aid soak. Replacing the water with brine in the Kool-Aid mixture, as Alton did, might have been better.
  • The mixture seemed to soften up the pickles more than soaking in regular brine does. I say “seemed” because it wasn’t to a large degree, and I could be over-analyzing.
  • The exposed flesh absorbed the Kool-Aid mixture far faster than the skin. If you’re not going to put the Koolickle on a stick for eating, slicing the pickles into half-moons before soaking will increase the flesh-to-skin ratio and increase absorption.
  • Absorption seemed to stop after two days. That is, the piece I cut off on day two seemed to have the same amount of absorption as the pieces I ate on day three.
  • The sweetness of the Kool-Aid almost entirely replaced the sourness of the pickle.

My two-year-old daughter helped me test along the way, and my wife tried a bit of it on the third day. My daughter had no complaints, said it was pretty good. My wife didn’t like it at all, but couldn’t put her finger on why. I liked them quite a bit.

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3 Responses

  1. The show just re-ran last night and my husband is at the grocery store right now getting the cherry Kool-aid for our test run!

    The recipe was:
    2 pkgs. of non-sweetened Cherry Kool-Aid
    1 lb. of sugar (approx 2 1/3 cups)
    1 gallon jar of pickles

    Pour brine off of pickles and set aside. Slice pickles length-wise for better absorbtion, like you said, and put back in the jar. Add Koolaid and sugar to brine and stir till dissolved. Pour the Cherry-brine back over the pickles and let it set for one week before serving.

    I’m excited to try these! They make my mouth water just thinking about them!

  2. I made these again a couple of weeks ago and they came out better than the first time I tried them – presumably because I let them soak for a full week.

    Thanks for the comments!

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