Pickled vegetables are a great way to add some crunch and acidity to just about anything you eat. And if you’re a gardener, it’s a super useful technique for preserving your vegetables. The best part is that it’s dead simple and allows you to experiment with all sorts of different flavors. Definitely give quick pickling a try if you haven’t before!
What is Quick Pickling?
Quick pickling is a simple and fast way to pickle vegetables in your refrigerator. It doesn’t require any complicated canning techniques, and you can use any mason jar or sealable container you have in your kitchen.
What Kind of Stuff Can You Pickle?
Cucumbers are the obvious choice, but you can quick pickle just about any vegetable. Carrots, onions, and green beans are a few popular picks. You could even try eggs or watermelon rind if you’re feeling daring.
One tip when choosing veggies: you will want to make sure whatever you pick is fresh. Avoid vegetables that have started to get bruised up or mushy.
Preparing Vegetables for Pickling
Generally I like to leave softer vegetables in bigger chunks, since they will break down easier and soften further. For example, cherry tomatoes can be left whole. Harder vegetables, like carrots and onions, can generally be cut up into smaller pieces.
Also think about what you might be eating with your vegetables. If you’re going to put your pickled cucumbers on a sandwich, cut up coin-shaped pieces. If you prefer them on the side, go with spears.
In the end it’s all experimentation and personal preference. Try different sizes and shapes until your favorite veggies have that perfect texture and crunch.
Making the Brine
You’ll want to use roughly equal parts water and vinegar for your brine. Almost any vinegar is fine, but avoid concentrated and aged options (e.g. malt and balsamic vinegars). Apple cider, white, and rice vinegar are a few that work perfectly fine.
You’ll also want to add a little salt and sugar. About one teaspoon of each for every cup of liquid is a good guideline, but you should experiment with these amounts (and the ratio of water to vinegar) to see what you like best.
Spicing It Up
This is where it really gets fun. You can add pretty much any spice, fresh or dry, to your pickling mixture. Here are some tips:
- Garlic goes great with almost everything. You can throw in whole cloves, but smash them up a little bit first.
- Red pepper flakes and jalapeños are great for some heat. If you really like it spicy, add some serrano peppers.
- Ginger and a little sesame oil are great if you’ll be eating your veggies with an Asian dish.
- Don’t forget about ground spices. For example, smoked paprika adds a beautiful color and amazing flavor.
Some folks like to boil their mixture once spices are added to really infuse the brine with flavor, but it’s definitely not required.
Putting It All Together… And Waiting
Make sure you taste your solution before adding in your vegetables. Once you’re satisfied, throw in your vegetables and let the pickling process do its magic. You will ideally want to wait a day or two, but your vegetables will be pretty darn delicious after just a few hours.
That’s all there is to quick pickling! Your vegetables should last about 30 days. If you finish them before that, you can throw some more vegetables in to reuse the liquid.
There’s an almost endless combination of vegetables, vinegars, and spices, so go crazy! Pickling is definitely more art than science, and it can be fun to hone your recipe over time. If you’ve got any great pickling recipes, tips, or favorite ingredients, let me know about them in the comments!