Traditional recipes

How to Pickle Almost Anything

How to Pickle Almost Anything

This step-by-step guide shows you how to make refrigerator pickles using any vegetable. Sure, you can just buy a jar of pickles from the grocery store, but homemade pickles are tastier, healthier, and much easier to make than you’d expect.

How to Make Homemade Pickles

Pickles—crunchy, tangy, and a touch sweet—make an addictive, healthy snack and are the perfect way to extend the life of seasonal produce. The method I’m about to show you is for quick refrigerator pickles. I prefer these to shelf-stable pickles because they’re faster and far less of a hassle. You don’t need fancy canning equipment—just a clean container with a lid or cap and five basic pickle ingredients: vegetables, water, vinegar, salt, and sugar, plus four or five spices.

Basic Pickling Ratio

Refrigerator pickles don’t need to follow a strict vinegar to water ratio like shelf-stable pickles do, because you don't need to ward off bacteria growth—the fridge does that. But I’ve found that using one regardless makes the process a whole lot easier. However, to meet Cooking Light nutrition guidelines, we chose a ratio that minimizes sugar and salt (don't worry, they have plenty of flavor). Cheryl Slocum’s Quick Refrigerator Pickles, serves as the perfect guide:

½ cup water : ½ cup vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar : 2 teaspoons salt (for every 1 cup of total liquid)

This ratio fills one pint-sized Mason jar. You can scale it up however, if you plan to use multiple jars or bigger containers.

Step One: Choose Your Vegetable

Traditional pickles use cucumbers, but why stop there? When it comes to pickling, the sky is the limit. Is it a vegetable? Is it crunchy? If yes, you can pickle it. Here are a few ideas:

  • Cucumbers
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Radishes
  • Green beans
  • Broccoli stems
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Pearl onions
  • Jalapeno

You can also pickle fruit! Peaches, strawberries, grapes, and watermelon rind are all classics. But as you may want to adjust the salt and sugar ratios for sweet pickles, we'll stick to veggies for this particular guide.

Step Two: Gather the Ingredients

Now that you know what you want to pickle, let’s round up the other pickling ingredients. Again, this formula is loosely based on Slocum’s recipe:

  • 1 pint-sized Mason jar
  • Vegetable of your choice (such as English cucumber, cauliflower, or carrots)
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 sprig of fresh dill, tarragon, basil, or cilantro
  • 1/2 cup white, rice, or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

As long as you stick to the basic ratio, you can customize the ingredients however you like. White vinegar gives a more traditional pickle flavor, while apple cider vinegar adds a touch of sweetness. Fresh dill is a classic pickle herb, but you could also try fresh tarragon, basil, or cilantro.

Step Three: Cut the Vegetables

After you’ve chosen your pickling vegetable, cut it into smaller pieces so that it fits inside your Mason jar. For cucumbers, slice them into about ¼-inch thick coins. If you’re using a whole head of cauliflower, cut it into smaller florets. For carrots, cut them into ¼-inch thick batons (the perfect size for snacking!) or coins.

Cut enough vegetables to fill the Mason jar so that there is about ½ inch of space left from the rim. Add the garlic (I like to crush it first with the side of my Chef’s knife) and fresh herbs to the jar, then pack the vegetables in as tightly as you can without crushing them. Set the jar aside.

Step Four: Prepare the Brine

Place the vinegar, water, and remaining ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring until dissolved. Heating the mixture helps to dissolve the salt and sugar while also infusing the spices. Once the ingredients are fully combined, remove from heat and let stand for about 5 minutes.

Step Five: Add Brine to Vegetables

Slowly pour the brine into your Mason jar. You should have the perfect amount of liquid to fill the jar nearly to the top.

Step Six: Cover and Refrigerate

Screw the lid onto the jar and place in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 days. The pickles are ready when they have a tangy flavor and a crisp-tender texture. Keep in mind, the longer you refrigerate the pickles, the stronger their flavor will be. Keep refrigerated and enjoy within 2 weeks.

What to Do With Homemade Pickles...

...and Leftover Pickle Juice

If you’re out of pickles, that doesn’t mean the party has to stop. Leftover pickle juice is packed with health benefits and it has a plethora of culinary uses. Try pickle juice as a tangy base for vinaigrettes and cocktails (make this Bloody Good Bloody Mary) or use it as a marinade for tofu or meat.


The power of pickles: a guide to preserving almost everything – from jam-making to chutneys

M ore than any domestic appliance, preserving is the home cook’s secret weapon. If you have a vegetable garden, fruit trees or an allotment, it is the age-old way of making the summer glut and autumn harvest last through the winter dearth when there is nothing to grow or pick. Even with year-round fresh produce in the shops, a gleaming row of gem-hued jars filled to the brim with crunch and spice can brighten up the most lacklustre meal.

The idea of making your own kimchi or bottling a batch of chutney might scare you off. But all you need is a few key ingredients and some patience. Here are a few ideas to get you started.


How To Pickle Anything, No Canning Necessary

There are certain things I will never understand in this world: the rules of cricket, how fish reproduce, quantum harmonic oscillation… and people who don’t like pickles. That last one is probably the hardest for me to grasp.

Because, come on, pickles taste amazing! Snap into a perfectly crisp gherkin that’s sopped up plenty of vinegar, fresh herbs and just a hint of salt and tell me you’re not in briny heaven. Sneak a dill spear into your next burger and tell me it’s not tangily enhanced.

But don’t stop with cucumbers: you can pickle pretty much any veggie. Tomatillos, carrots, okra, beets: almost anything will be improved by pickling. And don’t let a fear of canning slow you down: instead, try making refrigerator pickles—no canning required! (Of course, should you like to can them, our recipes are suitable for that as well—see Step 5 below.)

Here are a few easy tips for making sure your pickles come out great.
• Most water is fine for pickling but avoid using hard water use purified if in doubt.
• Use any vinegar you like. If you plan to can, however, make sure you use a vinegar with at least five percent acetic acid.
• Use pure sea salt without any additives or salt labeled “canning” or “pickling” salt. Additives in table salt may make the brine cloud.

Here’s a simple guide to transforming your fresh summer produce into a sharp and piquant playground for your taste buds:

Step 1: Prepare Vegetables
Wash and chop your veggies into whatever shape you’d like them to be pickled in (thin disks work well if you’re not sure what to do). Certain veggies will be enhanced by blanching them (briefly cooking them in boiling water). At EatingWell, we recommend blanching beets, Brussels sprouts, carrots, ginger, green beans, okra and peppers. Don’t bother blanching cucumbers, tomatillos, tomatoes or turnips, however. You can find recommendations for the quantity of vegetables to start with for different kinds of recipes here.

To blanch: Bring 16 cups of water per pound of prepped vegetables to a boil in a large pot. Add the vegetables, cover, return to a boil and cook for 2 minutes (cook beets for 5 minutes). Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl of ice water to cool drain.

Step 2: Divide Vegetables
Divide the vegetables among 6 pint-size (2-cup) canning jars or similar-size tempered-glass or heatproof-plastic containers with lids.

Step 3: Add Flavorings
Add fresh or dry flavorings, if desired. Don’t be afraid to mix and match a little! Here are some tasty flavorings to try:

Dry Flavorings (amount per pint jar):

1 Bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon Celery seed
1-3 small whole Dried Chile peppers
1/2 teaspoon Cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon Dill seed
1/2 teaspoon Mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon Pickling spice
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric

Fresh Flavorings (amount per pint jar):
1 fresh Habanero or Jalapeño pepper
2-4 sprigs sliced or whole Dill
1/2-1 whole large clove, sliced Garlic
2 3-inch strips fresh (peeled) or 1/2 teaspoon prepared Horseradish
1 sprig fresh Oregano
1 tablespoon sliced Shallot

Step 4: Make Brine
Make either sweet or sour brine using these recipes:

Sour Pickle Brine Recipe
Makes: 6 cups. Combine 3 cups distilled white vinegar (or cider vinegar), 3 cups water, 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sea salt and 2 tablespoons sugar in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until the salt is dissolved. Let boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Sweet Pickle Brine Recipe
Makes: 6 cups. Combine 3 cups distilled white vinegar (or cider vinegar), 3 cups water, 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sea salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Let boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Step 5: Fill Jars with Brine
Carefully fill jars (or containers) with brine to within 1/2 inch of the top of the rim, covering the vegetables completely. Discard any leftover brine. Place the lids on the jars (or containers) and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving. (Refrigerate okra and turnips for at least 1 week before serving.) Pickles will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Find step-by-step instructions for canning your homemade pickles so they can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 year here.

What would you like to learn to pickle?

Matthew Thompson is the associate food editor for EatingWell Magazine.


Wait! Don't Throw Away Leftover Pickle Masala, Turn It Into These Delicious Recipes

Highlights

We all can agree to the fact that most of us love eating achar. Whether it is with your parathas or with simple dal chawal- pickles are the one thing that you can pair with most foods. Ranging from mild to super spicy, you can find all kinds of pickles, depending on the culture and state. In many of our families, we have our own recipes for making pickles passed on from generations and some of us might just buy a bottle from the nearest grocery store. In one way or another, a bottle of pickle is always present at our homes.

While we enjoy eating this with most of our foods, we always struggle to eat the leftover masala when the pickle jar is finishing. Although that masala is yummy, eating it directly could harm your throat. To make use of the leftover pickle masala in your jar, nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar has the perfect solution!

A trick passed on by Rujuta Diwekar's family will help you to make use of that leftover pickle. All you need to do is put small white onions in the leftover pickle masala and brew them under the sun for a few days. And your new way to use the leftover pickle will be ready in no time!


How to Pickle Almost Anything - Recipes

It began, as do many U.S. fermentation experiences, with Sandor Ellix Katz. We ran a story by him in Issue 68. Tracy Loeffelholz Dunn, the YES! designated early adopter, decided to give it a try. She gave me some of her kimchi. It was so good I had to make my own. Kali Swenson, erstwhile intern, thought it would be cool to have a low-cost source to feed her kombucha habit. Fermentation—it’s catching.

You take something ordinary and let the little beasties make it wonderful.

Why ferment? It’s practical magic. You take something ordinary and let the little beasties make it wonderful. You know exactly what’s in your pickles or kimchi or kombucha, and you make it taste just the way you want it to. And if you’re already eating or drinking ferments, you’re going to save a lot of money making your own. Plus, you can impress your friends and, once they’ve sampled your goodies and want to make their own, you can share tips, recipes, and starters.

There’s a ton of fermentation information on the Web. Get the details there. But here’s where we started.

Kimchi and kraut

What I put in kimchi: cabbage, kale, radish, turnip, greens, onion, garlic scapes, kohlrabi—whatever’s in the garden or on hand.

Chop veggies. About one and a half times as much as your container holds. Massage with 15g salt per kilo (about 1T per quart). Let rest while you mix spices. Korean red pepper (gochugaru) is worth looking for. For 2 liters, I use: head or two garlic, 1t grated ginger, 2T fish sauce, half an apple, 6T red pepper. Blend into paste. Mix with veggies. Pack into jars, just up to the shoulder. Add brine as needed to cover. Add weight to keep veggies submerged (I use marbles). Cap the jars. For the first few days, loosen the cap occasionally to release CO2.

Ferment for three weeks for full acidity—three different types of bacteria work on the stuff at different times. Then refrigerate. If you like it less sour, refrigerate after a week.­

For sauerkraut, follow above recipe, omitting everything except cabbage and salt.

Kombucha

A bit of time, some simple ingredients, and a good SCOBY can get you custom-flavored kombucha for pennies. You can buy a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast). Better yet, get one from a friend who brews.

Put 2T (or about 10 bags) of tea and a cup of sugar in a gallon jar. Add three quarts of boiling water. Let cool to room temperature. Remove the tea, add the SCOBY and starter (a bit of tea from the last batch), and cover the jar’s mouth with cloth.

Store in a warm, dark place for about 14 days—less if you like it sweeter. Remove the SCOBY and the new one it made and save for future brewing (and to give away). Add flavoring if you like, transfer to airtight bottles, and give it a week to get nice and fizzy. Refrigerate and enjoy the refreshing probiotic- and antioxidant-packed drink—even on an intern’s budget.

Yogurt

Slowly heat a half gallon of organic whole milk to 180 degrees, when bubbles form but just before boiling. This process kills any bacteria that might spoil the milk. Cover with a lid, or you’ll need to keep stirring to prevent a skin from forming.

Next, cool the milk to 110 degrees, keeping the lid on. At this temperature, the yogurt culture will thrive, so whisk in 1/4 cup of recently purchased plain organic yogurt with live cultures. If you make yogurt again within two weeks, you can use your own yogurt as your starter.

Pour the mixture into five clean pint mason jars. Fill a sixth jar with hot tap water. Put all the jars into a cooler—or anywhere the temperature will be somewhat constant and the jars not jostled for 5–8 hours. Then refrigerate.


Step One: Choose Your Vegetable

Traditional pickles use cucumbers, but why stop there? When it comes to pickling, the sky is the limit. Is it a vegetable? Is it crunchy? If yes, you can pickle it. Here are a few ideas:

  • Cucumbers
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Radishes
  • Green beans
  • Broccoli stems
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Pearl onions
  • Jalapeno

You can also pickle fruit! Peaches, strawberries, grapes, and watermelon rind are all classics. But as you may want to adjust the salt and sugar ratios for sweet pickles, we'll stick to veggies for this particular guide.


A cheater’s guide to quick pickling almost anything

We’ve all felt the guilt. Think back to one week ago, when you were walking around the farmer’s market buying all sorts of just-in-season vegetables, thinking how this was going to be the start of you eating healthy. But that was a week ago. The beets and turnips are still sitting in the fridge, and you’ve got plans tonight, so they’ll be one step closer to the compost heap by morning. If you’re the thrift-savvy Brooklynite we know you are, you’re looking for a way to stretch your vegetables’ life span, so here’s your answer: pickling.

Pickling is a deceptively easy process. Sure, if you want to get way into it and have a pantry full of pickles from 2012 (“a good year”), there will be boiling jars, cleaning pickles, and boiling pickles in jars, so that you get a tight seal but if you just want to have your vegetable supply around for a few weeks longer, then all you need is an acid and whatever else you’d like for it to taste like.

There are many reasons to give this often-misunderstood mode of preservation a try: obviously, the first being that it will grant your food the vegetable equivalent of immortality, making them last up to three times as long as they would regularly hang around. Beyond the lifespan, however, pickling is also a great way to infuse attention-grabbing, tangy flavor to just about anything you’ve got sitting in the fridge, and as an added bonus a lot of the nutritional value of the subject is maintained throughout pickling.

You can pickle just about anything. Besides cukes, you may have tried the occasional pickled shallot (perfect on sandwiches) or pickled carrot (secret ingredient in all good Asian cuisine). Some of my favorites include watermelon rinds, peaches, okra, tomatoes, and grapes. Pickled items can be served as sides, used to add acidity to any fatty barbecue, or even counter-balance something overly sweet in dessert.

To pickle, you’ll first need any acid, usually vinegar (citrus juices work sometimes too, but check larger recipe databases like here to find specific formulas) and some spices, usually left whole in cases like coriander seeds and black pepper. You can also put in chilis, sugar, parsley stems, really just about anything you’d like to taste, keeping in mind that while leafy herbs taste nice, they break down quickly in acid.

The next part is the real trick, as some recipes will tell you to bring your vinegar to a boil before adding, while others will tell you to simply toss it all in any container. The key is knowing that first off, boiling your brine (vinegar mixture) will help all the flavors meld better, and that if you add in your pickling subject while the brine is hot, your pickle will be briefly cooked, and you risk losing some of the crunch.

All this means that if you need pickled carrots in a hurry, boiling your brine and adding your carrots and letting the two cool together would probably be the way to go, giving you tangy pickled carrots in under an hour, but if you have all week, boil your brine then let it cool before adding anything. Another pickling pro tip: it’s never too late to customize your liquid either, so if you try your pickled watermelon rind a week in and decide it could use some spice, just pop a jalapeno in there.

Be warned, though, it’s a dangerous road to go down. Sure, at first you’re just making your own dill pickles every now and then, but then you’ll get bored, start wondering what else can you pickle?! Before long you’ll have a fridge filled with cured sea snails, treated chicken feet, and pickled apples, which will take your martini garnishes to some very dark places.

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4 Comments

I love this. What if you want to be traditional and make your own pickled cukes? Do you need pickling spices? Dill? What kind of vinegar?


How to Pickle for Probiotics

Crunch into a tart, juicy pickle. Pickling vegetables throughout the summer is one of the best ways to capture the season’s produce. But perhaps that approach is all wrong.

Vinegar is most commonly used to achieve a sour flavor and act as a preservative. This method misses out on the entire reason the world began pickling foods. The goal is to produce fermented vegetables that turn them into healthy probiotic food. When a brine of salt and water is used rather than vinegar, the salt reacts with the bacteria in the vegetables creating good bacteria that helps our digestive systems. However, you can try this out if you need to fix your refrigerator water filter.

The majority of store-bought brands are vinegar pickles, but a few companies are making small-batch fermented vegetables, like Real Pickles and The Brinery .

Probiotics for Digestive Health
Now for a little biology lesson. More than 100 trillion individual bacteria and yeasts live in the gut. Their purpose is to help digest the food we eat and in turn the food we eat feeds them. Eating probiotics gives the bacteria what it requires to maintain optimal functioning of our cells. Think of your body as it’s own ecosystem. That system can easily be thrown out of balance if the wrong bacteria takes over. Eating high starch and high sugar foods leads to our bodies producing more sugar-loving bacteria and yeasts because we are literately feeding these microorganisms. Sugar-loving bacteria throws off the body’s ecosystem causing poor digestion and all the problems this brings. By incorporating probiotic foods into your diet, you are feeding the bacteria that keeps your ecosystem in balance.

How Does Fermentation Work?
In order for fermentation to occur, vegetables sit in a brine at room temperature for about 3 days to 2 weeks. The bacteria required for fermentation are found right on the cucumbers. All plants have naturally occurring bacteria existing on them. When placed in the brine, the bacteria react producing carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Eventually, the conditions within the jar become too acidic for these bacteria to survive and they die out, replaced with bacteria that can better handle the acidic conditions such as Lactobacillus (lactic acid bacteria). It is this bacteria that aids in gut health.

Making Fermented Pickles
Fermented foods are super simple to make and it’s easy to customize the flavors to your liking.

For pickles, choose cucumbers that are a good size for your jar. Pickling or “Kirby” cucumbers work well. Persian cucumbers can go limp and do not stay as crisp as the others.

The water must be filtered for the fermentation to take action. Chlorine is added to most municipal water supplies and counters the chemical reaction. If you don’t have a water filter at home, pick-up some filtered water from the store.

As for the container, pickle crocks, wide-mouth glass canning jars or glass jars with clamp lids can be used.

Once all the supplies are gathered, you’re ready to pickle!

Using filtered water, scrub the cucumbers and remove the stems. Then slice into spears.

Dissolve the salt into the water and set aside.

Add in all spices and herbs to the jar, then pack in the cucumbers one spear at a time so that they’re neatly stacked.

Now something is needed to weigh down the cucumbers to keep them submerged in the brine. I like to use a large cucumber by slicing it in half and packing it on top of the jar. Pour in the brine until one inch is left at the top.

Leaving a one inch space at the top of the jar is necessary for air bubbles to escape during the process. The chemical reaction causes pressure to build up inside the jar. If using a jar with a clamp lid, remove the plastic seal. For screw tops, twist in on half way. Then make sure to check on the jar every day and open it to relieve the pressure.

Sometimes fermentation can be temperamental. It will take between three to nine days to fully develop and its important to keep the jar in a stable environment. Store it in a dark place and as close to 75 degrees as possible. Temperature affects the growth and activity of the fermentation process and if kept too high the wrong consistency will result. It’s also possible for the lactobacillus to become too acidic early on in the process and then the food will spoil.

In about five days, you’ll have crisp, sour pickles. Store in the refrigerator for up to two months.

With this basic recipe, you can pickle almost anything. Try it with any vegetable or combination of vegetables and get creative with fresh herbs and spices.

To power your digestive tract, ferment those vegetables.


30+ Pickle Recipes for Summer Harvest

The easiest way to make pickles from cucumbers is to use a seasoning packet from Mrs. Wages. Just peel the cucumbers and cut them into spears. Mix the seasoning with water and vinegar and process them according to the package instructions.

*Tip: Measure how long each of the spears needs to be so you can fill the jars. Then can the smaller pieces that were left over after cutting the cucumbers for homemade dressing this November!

Another family favorite pickle recipe is red hot Cinnamon Pickles, These pickles take several days to make but they are worth it!

There are many ways to make pickles. You can use the cold pack method that makes refrigerator pickles like many people do or you can use a hot water bath canner so you can save them and enjoy them for months. Some people even make pickles with other vegetables. Whichever version you choose, take a few hours this week and make some pickles for your family!

Coldpacked Refrigerator Pickles

  • Cold Packed Pickles
  • Refrigerator Garlic Dill Pickles
  • Spicy Homeamde Pickles
  • Almost Homemade Pickles
  • Claussen CopyCat Pickles
  • Honey Habanero Pickles
  • Dill Pickled Cucumbers
  • Easy Refrigerator Pickles
  • Bread & Butter Pickles

What is Pickling?

First, let’s talk about what pickling is. Pickling is the process of safely preserving food by using either pickle brine or through fermentation. I’ll go into more detail about both methods below, but for now just now that either way will greatly extend the shelf-life of perishable foods.

Pickling isn’t a new thing either. In fact, there’s evidence of people learning how to make pickles as far back as 2030 BC! While some techniques may have been refined over the past 4,000 years, the basic process has stayed the same.

Which Foods Can You Pickle?

We all know that cucumbers can be pickled, of course, but there’s so much more. There’s an entire world out there of flavourful vegetables and fruits that have been preserved. Practically anything that you grow in your garden can be used to either become a pickle or as part of the flavour in the brine itself.

Fruits That Can be Pickled

Let’s start with the fruits. Many people are shocked to know that you can pickle fruit just as easily as a vegetable, but it’s true. Personally, I love the sweet-sour-salty combination that pickled fruit produces. Here are some of the most common fruits you can pickle:

  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Lemons
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Watermelon rinds

As you can see, the list is quite extensive, even though it is not exhaustive.

Vegetables You Can Pickle

Likewise, although more people are familiar with pickled vegetables, they often only think of cucumbers. There are so many other colourful veggies that make excellent pickles, such as:

  • Asparagus
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn
  • Green beans
  • Okra
  • Onions

Other Foods You Can Pickle

It’s not just fruits and veggies that can be pickled. You can also pickle protein such as brisket (turning it to corned beef thanks to a salt brine) or even hardboiled eggs.

Pickle Brine vs. Fermentation

As I mentioned above, there are a few methods you can use when learning how to make pickles. While I have some fantastic recipes linked below that will walk you through how to make pickles step by step, I wanted to give you a quick overview of each method.

Pickles with Vinegar Brine – Water Bath Canning

When we think of pickles, we often think of the cucumber in a jar of vinegar-based solution. The proper name for this is vinegar brine. Pickle brine is made of a combination of vinegar, water, and salt. There are often other spices and seasonings added too, such as dill or peppers for example.

Once the food is emersed in pickling vinegar, it must be sealed properly for the food to stay fresh. This is done by the canning method of a water bath, similar to how you would traditionally can jams.

Quick Pickles or Refrigerator Pickles

This is the easiest and fastest way to pickle, thus the name. Using the same vinegar brine method as you would with water bath canning, you will prepare a sweet or salty vinegar brine and cover the veggies or fruit. Then, instead of canning them, they simply get stored in the fridge and eaten up quickly.

Fermentation

Fermentation is another way to preserve vegetables and create pickles. This can be done with almost any veggie successfully. Fermentation preserves food while also increasing the good-for-you bacteria. Well-known fermented foods include kimchi and sauerkraut.

To successfully ferment foods, you need to choose one of three starter methods:

Then, add the food to the starter along with distilled water into a fermentation crock. Make sure the vegetables are weighed down underneath the brine, then place the crock in a cold storage environment.


How To Pickle Anything, No Canning Necessary

There are certain things I will never understand in this world: the rules of cricket, how fish reproduce, quantum harmonic oscillation… and people who don’t like pickles. That last one is probably the hardest for me to grasp.

Because, come on, pickles taste amazing! Snap into a perfectly crisp gherkin that’s sopped up plenty of vinegar, fresh herbs and just a hint of salt and tell me you’re not in briny heaven. Sneak a dill spear into your next burger and tell me it’s not tangily enhanced.

But don’t stop with cucumbers: you can pickle pretty much any veggie. Tomatillos, carrots, okra, beets: almost anything will be improved by pickling. And don’t let a fear of canning slow you down: instead, try making refrigerator pickles—no canning required! (Of course, should you like to can them, our recipes are suitable for that as well—see Step 5 below.)

Here are a few easy tips for making sure your pickles come out great.
• Most water is fine for pickling but avoid using hard water use purified if in doubt.
• Use any vinegar you like. If you plan to can, however, make sure you use a vinegar with at least five percent acetic acid.
• Use pure sea salt without any additives or salt labeled “canning” or “pickling” salt. Additives in table salt may make the brine cloud.

Here’s a simple guide to transforming your fresh summer produce into a sharp and piquant playground for your taste buds:

Step 1: Prepare Vegetables
Wash and chop your veggies into whatever shape you’d like them to be pickled in (thin disks work well if you’re not sure what to do). Certain veggies will be enhanced by blanching them (briefly cooking them in boiling water). At EatingWell, we recommend blanching beets, Brussels sprouts, carrots, ginger, green beans, okra and peppers. Don’t bother blanching cucumbers, tomatillos, tomatoes or turnips, however. You can find recommendations for the quantity of vegetables to start with for different kinds of recipes here.

To blanch: Bring 16 cups of water per pound of prepped vegetables to a boil in a large pot. Add the vegetables, cover, return to a boil and cook for 2 minutes (cook beets for 5 minutes). Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl of ice water to cool drain.

Step 2: Divide Vegetables
Divide the vegetables among 6 pint-size (2-cup) canning jars or similar-size tempered-glass or heatproof-plastic containers with lids.

Step 3: Add Flavorings
Add fresh or dry flavorings, if desired. Don’t be afraid to mix and match a little! Here are some tasty flavorings to try:

Dry Flavorings (amount per pint jar):

1 Bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon Celery seed
1-3 small whole Dried Chile peppers
1/2 teaspoon Cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon Dill seed
1/2 teaspoon Mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon Pickling spice
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric

Fresh Flavorings (amount per pint jar):
1 fresh Habanero or Jalapeño pepper
2-4 sprigs sliced or whole Dill
1/2-1 whole large clove, sliced Garlic
2 3-inch strips fresh (peeled) or 1/2 teaspoon prepared Horseradish
1 sprig fresh Oregano
1 tablespoon sliced Shallot

Step 4: Make Brine
Make either sweet or sour brine using these recipes:

Sour Pickle Brine Recipe
Makes: 6 cups. Combine 3 cups distilled white vinegar (or cider vinegar), 3 cups water, 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sea salt and 2 tablespoons sugar in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until the salt is dissolved. Let boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Sweet Pickle Brine Recipe
Makes: 6 cups. Combine 3 cups distilled white vinegar (or cider vinegar), 3 cups water, 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sea salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Let boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Step 5: Fill Jars with Brine
Carefully fill jars (or containers) with brine to within 1/2 inch of the top of the rim, covering the vegetables completely. Discard any leftover brine. Place the lids on the jars (or containers) and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving. (Refrigerate okra and turnips for at least 1 week before serving.) Pickles will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Find step-by-step instructions for canning your homemade pickles so they can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 year here.

What would you like to learn to pickle?

Matthew Thompson is the associate food editor for EatingWell Magazine.