We are all suspended in this web of time where we are learning different ways to cope with our new quarantine realities. In the kitchen, no doubt, you have already adjusted yourselves to navigating ways around ingredient shortages and making less frequent trips to the grocery store. It’s been a strange and surreal time, for sure! One of the ways we have adapted to this challenge is rediscovering our love for quick pickling. Quick pickling your veggies is one of the simplest ways to lengthen the shelf life of your veggie haul, and makes you feel like quite the homesteader when seeing your brightly colored pickled beauties all lined up in your fridge. Let’s break down the steps to this incredibly easy task!
- What equipment do I need? All you need are freshly washed tall glass jars (Pint and Quart sized Ball or Kerr jars are great), lids, and a saucepan. We are not canning here, rather making a quick brine to soak your veggies in, so no need to purchase any fancy equipment. If you don’t have ball jars, any container with a lid will work, just avoid using wide deep containers, as you want your veggies to be fully submerged in your brine to marinate correctly.
- What kind of vegetables do I use? Basically, you can quick pickle most vegetables beyond the classic use of cucumbers, and even fruit! Veggies that do well can include: Asparagus, radish, onion, cauliflower, carrots, beets, green beans, fennel, bell peppers, strawberries, blueberries, rhubarb, ginger, and peaches. So many great options! And don’t be afraid to mix and match different veggies in one jar, feel free to add in multiple veggies to create unique blends tailored to your palate.
- Which vinegar is best? While there is no “best” vinegar to use, plain white distilled vinegar is the most versatile and budget friendly to use. The mellow flavor of it tends to let the spices (if using) shine, and doesn’t over power your veggies. Red wine vinegar is great to use if you want to add a pop of color, and apple cider vinegar gives a pleasant deep tangy flavor. Champagne vinegar is very nice too, albeit not as budget friendly as the rest, but lends a sophisticated taste to your creation. You can definitely mix your vinegars for a medley of flavors as well. Don’t be tied to using just one, there is room for experimentation here to dial it into your liking.
Freeway to Flavortown
Spices are what give the brine a punch of flavor! Most stores carry a pickling spice blend in their spice section which is fantastic and super easy to use to flavor your brine. Other great options to fine tune your flavors are: Black peppercorns, coriander seed, fennel seed, star anise, cloves, pink peppercorn, mustard seed, bay leaves, and red pepper flakes. Fresh herbs make wonderful additions too, such as dill, fennel fronds, and parsley.
Now, let’s get started. Here are the steps:
- Prepare the vegetables or fruit of your choice by washing them well and cutting them into mid-sized chunks if needed to fit into your jars.
- Pack your vegetables or fruit into your clean glass jars. If using fresh herbs in your brine marinade, add them into your jar here as well.
- Make your brine by using the brine ratio below by adding all of the brine ingredients to your saucepan and simmer without boiling over medium heat until the sugar and salt are fully dissolved. Once dissolved, remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Pour your prepared brine over your veggies in the jar until fully submerged.
- Store and let them marinade in the refrigerator until ready to use. For full flavor intensity, wait at least two days before enjoying. Each jar should last up to three week refrigerated.
Basic Brine Ingredient Ratio (Makes 4 Cups):
- 2 Cups Vinegar of your choice
- 2 Cups water
- 1.5 Tbsp of granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1-2 Tbsp dry spices of your choice (good, but optional)
Easy peasy, right? To enjoy your bright gorgeous bounty, it is essential to let them marinade at the very least for 24-48 hours before eating. The longer it sits in the marinade, the more flavorful it will become. You can enjoy the fruits of your labor by adding your pickled vegetables to salads, appetizer plates, protein bowls, sandwiches, tacos, or use as a quick side dish to your meals or serve as a healthy snack. Ready to make your first batch? Here are three of my favorite quick pickle recipes to get you started:
Spring Asparagus with Dill and Lemon
- 12 ounces of fresh asparagus (thinner stalks are best for this)
- 1-2 two inch slices of lemon peel
- 3 Tbsp. sliced shallots
- 1 tsp. black peppercorns
- ½ tsp of dried dill, or, ¼ cup of fresh dill leaves
Follow the steps above with white distilled vinegar, using a wide-mouth quart-sized ball jar.
Spicy Peppered Cauliflower
- 3 cups cauliflower cut into chunks
- 1.5 cup sliced red bell pepper
- 2 tsp pickling spices
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1-2 tbsp sliced fresh jalapeño
Follow the steps above with white distilled vinegar, using a wide mouth quart sized ball jar
Red Onions with Coriander
- 1 red onion, sliced
Pack into a wide mouthed pint sized glass jar. Follow the steps above, but for the brine use this ratio instead :
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar,
- ½ cup water
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tbsp. sugar
- ½ tsp. coriander seed
- ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flaked
All photos by Marla Smith Photography