Can you imagine a world without pickles? …I wouldn’t want to.
With it’s refreshing crunch and tangy goodness, it’s the perfect partner and palate cleanser to all things rich and fatty. But it doesn’t have to be just pickles, pickled vegetable recipes are easy and you can use a wide variety of fresh, crisp vegetables to create an unlimited palate of tastes, colors and textures.
Whether it’s Italian giardiniera filled with fresh cauliflower, carrots, peppers and celery or Chinese pickled cucumbers, there’s no limit to what you can pickle. And pickled vegetables are one of the few foods that easily combine with other flavors to elicit that wonderful taste of “umami.”
Pickles have been around for thousands of years, dating as far back as 2030 BC when cucumbers from their native India were pickled in the Tigris Valley. The word “pickle” comes from the Dutch pekel or northern German pókel, meaning “salt” or “brine,” two very important components in the pickling process.
Yet for all their possible variations, all pickling starts with the same basic construct: combine vinegar, water, salt, sugar and crisp vegetables, allow to marinate, and viola, crisp tasty pickled vegetables.
So gather your veggies, get out your equipment, and have some fun….and do experiment…. the possibilities are endless.
How To Quick Pickle Any Vegetable
by Meghan Splawn
Makes 2 pint-sized jars
1 pound fresh vegetables, such cucumbers, carrots, green beans, summer squash, cherry tomatoes
2 sprigs fresh herbs, such as thyme, dill, or rosemary (optional)
1 to 2 teaspoons whole spices, such black peppercorns, coriander, or mustard seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon dried herbs or ground spices (optional)
2 cloves garlic, smashed or sliced (optional)
1 cup vinegar, such as white, apple cider, or rice
1 cup water
1 tablespoon kosher salt or 2 teaspoons pickling salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar (optional)
- Prepare the jars: Wash 2 wide-mouth pint jars, lids, and rings in warm soapy water and rinse well. Set aside to dry, or dry completely by hand.
- Prepare the vegetables:Wash and dry the vegetables. Peel carrots. Trim the end of beans. Cut vegetables into desired shapes and sizes.
- Add the flavorings: Divide the herbs, spices, or garlic you are using into the jars.
- Add the vegetables: Pack the vegetables into the jars, making sure there is a 1/2 inch of space from the rim of the jar to the tops of the vegetables. Pack them in as tightly as you can without smashing.
- Make the pickling liquid: Combine the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar (if using) in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Pour the brine over the vegetables, filling each jar to within 1/2 inch of the top. You might not use all the brine.
- Remove air bubbles: Gently tap the jars against the counter a few times to remove all the air bubbles. Top off with more pickling brine if necessary.
- Seal the jars:Place the lids over the jars and screw on the rings until tight.
- Cool and refrigerate:Let the jars cool to room temperature. Store the pickles in the refrigerator. The pickles will improve with flavor as they age — try to wait at least 48 hours before cracking them open.
Spicy Quick-Pickled Veggies
- By Cookie and Kate
- ½ medium cauliflower, florets cut into small, bite-sized pieces
- 2 medium carrots, cut on a sharp diagonal into ⅛” thin rounds
- 1 small white or yellow onion, sliced into very thin rounds
- 2 medium jalapeños, sliced into thin rounds
- 6 garlic cloves, quartered
- 1 cup plain white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 ½ tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon oregano (preferably Mexican oregano)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Pack the cauliflower, carrots, onion, jalapeños and garlic into a quart-sized wide-mouth mason jar. Place the jar in the sink, since you’ll be pouring hot liquid into it soon.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, salt, honey, bay leaf, oregano and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer over high heat, then carefully pour the hot vinegar mixture into the jar. You should have enough to completely submerge the vegetables (and maybe a little extra). Tuck the bay leaf into the side of the jar.
- Let the pickles cool to room temperature (about 1 ½ hours) before gently tapping the jar to remove air bubbles. The pickles should be pretty well pickled and ready to consume at this point. If you’re not eating them right away, securely fasten the lid and refrigerate for up to a month.
Vietnamese Quick-Pickled Vegetables
by Whole Foods
Makes about 4 cups, Serves 8
This easy quick-pickle is crunchy, sweet and salty. It’s the perfect accompaniment to Asian meat dishes or a colorful addition to salads and sandwiches. If you’re feeling creative, use the pickling mixture with other vegetables like asparagus, green beans or cauliflower.
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 carrots, thinly sliced
- 1 Thai bird or serrano chiles, stemmed and quartered lengthwise
- 1 (1/2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 large daikon radish, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
Put vinegar, sugar and salt into a large bowl and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Add carrots, chiles, ginger, daikon, cucumbers and onions and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to several hours before serving.
Quick and Easy Dill Pickles
By Jennifer Segal
Servings: About 24 spears, or two 1-quart jars
The most important part of the recipe is to start with Kirby or pickling cucumbers. They’re short, squat and full of warts but they make deliciously crisp pickles. They can be found at Whole Foods.
- 1-1/4 cups distilled white vinegar (5% acidity)
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoonssugar
- 2 cups cold water
- 1-3/4 to 2 poundsKirby cucumbers (about 6), cut into halves or spears
- 2 tablespoonscoriander seeds
- 6 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
- 1 teaspoonmustard seeds
- 1/4 teaspoonred pepper flakes
- 16 dill sprigs
- Combine the vinegar, salt and sugar in a small non-reactive saucepan (such as stainless steel, glass, ceramic or teflon) over high heat. Whisk until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Transfer the liquid into a bowl and whisk in the cold water. Refrigerate brine until ready to use.
- Stuff the cucumbers into two clean 1-quart jars. Add the coriander seeds, garlic cloves, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, dill sprigs, and chilled brine into jars, dividing evenly. If necessary, add a bit of cold water to the jars until the brine covers the cucumbers. Cover and refrigerate about 24 hours, then serve. Cucumbers will keep in the refrigerator for up to one month.