I love pickled things; cruchy, salty, tangy vegetables are my jam.
Unfortunately, really good pickles are hard to find and when you do, they can be pretty pricey.
Fortunately, making them is crazy easy. For real.
Here’s a basic brine to pickle anything.
(This “recipe” is for refridgerator pickles, no canning necessary)
Per PINT mason jar:
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar (or any other vinegar, my preference for this is the ‘clean and basic’ flavor of white vinegar)
1/2 cup water*
2 teaspoons salt*
2 teaspoons sugar*
Vegetables! Any combo, cut to your preference, enough to pack however many pints you plan to make
1-3 peeled raw whole cloves garlic, a pinch or two red chili flakes, 1-2 fresh clean rosemary, dill, chives, or thyme sprigs, a bit of chopped onion, a pinch or two of a premade dry pickle spice blend, a teaspoon of dry mustard seeds, a pinch of dry dill, 1-2 bay leafs, a pinch of coriander seeds, a few allspice berries…the options are wide open really!
Step One: Prepare your vegetables by washing and cutting them.
You can cut them however you’d prefer; keep in mind that the thicker the cut, the cruchier the vegetable will remain and the thinner the cut, the easier to pack into the jar.
Step Two: Make the brine.
Bring the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar to a gentle simmer.
Step Three: Prepare jars** and pack them.
While the brine heats, prepare your jars by washing them with soap and warm water then packing them.
To pack, put any “add-ins” in the bottom of your clean jar then tightly pack your vegetables in the jar, leaving at least a quarter inch of “headspace” between the top of the vegetables and the rim of the jar. Or add-ins can go on top, for these pickled carrots I did both.
I prefer to pack the jars very tight because it maximizes the pickles-per-jar and balances the brine to vegetable ratio to my liking.
Step Four: Pour the hot brine into the jars to just cover vegetables. Depending on what vegetables you have and how tight you pack them, you may have a little bit of leftover brine, you can discard it or save it in a jar for the next batch.
Step Five: Let cool for 10 minutes then put your two piece ring lid on.
Let cool another 30 minutes then store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Full disclaimer: I often keep these in the fridge for months but every single recipe I’ve ever read says just a few weeks. You will know if they’ve gone back by mold or film on the surface, if they don’t look spoiled, they aren’t.
My favorite combos with this brine and technique
My Papa’s Rosemary Pickled Carrots
Carrots cut into sticks
2 medium rosemary sprigs per jar
2-3 cloves peeled whole garlic cloves per jar
a generous pinch of red chili flakes
(I also used pickling spice in the pictures above but I think I prefer without so the rosemary is more dominant)
We made these every year with garden carrots growing up and canned them for pantry storage, it was a revelation when I realized I could make them with store bought (organic, they taste so much better) carrots and make them just a few jars at a time without having to break out the canner!
Jalepenos and Carrots
My take on Zanahorias en Escabeche, or spicy pickled carrots.
Thinly slice carrots and jalepenos or, like I do, use the slice option on your food processor for quick and easy. very thin cut veg, follow method above.
We love these on “fajita salads”, tacos, rice and beans, really anywhere you would use hot sauce.
Share your winning combos! I’d love some more inspiration!
*This balance of salt, sugar, and vinegar is my preference but it is not a solid “rule”. If you are new to making refrigerator pickles I suggest you start with these ratios then decide for yourself what your preference is; you can increase the vinegar and decrease the water if you prefer a really vinegary pickle, just go for 1 cup of liquid per pint. You can also adjust the sugar and salt balance up or down (or skip the sugar all together, I personally like how it helps balance to intensity of the vinegar and brings out the sweetness in the vegetables).
Note: when you are canning fruits and vegetables for long term storage unrefridgerated, you must stick to the recipe for food safety, since these are stored in the fridge you have much more room to adjust and play with the balance.
**Please use canning jars for this because they are designed to withstand the heat of the near boiling brine.
I like to joke that my garden is a “Pickle Garden”, I cannot wait to get all the cucs, okra, green tomatoes, squash, and green beans in brine!
Other preserved/pickled posts
Lacto-Fermented Cucumber Dill Pickles
Lacto-Fermented Pickled Vegetables