Pickling doesn’t have to mean pounds of vegetables and hours of canning. You can make refrigerator pickles in less than an hour and 24 hours later have crunchy pickles to munch on. Relishes are even faster- ready to eat in a matter of hours. Prepare for pickling obsession.
Picking your vinegar
Whatever vinegar you choose, it should be 5% acidity.
Plain white vinegar is the most traditional choice. It is great to use because the flavor is very clean and doesn’t really affect the flavor of the vegetables.
Cider vinegar is another popular choice for pickling, but bare in mind that it will make the over all flavor more fruity.
White Wine vinegar tends to be a little on the sweet side. It can be a nice choice if you want a little sweetness in your pickles without adding sugar. Be careful using it in sweet pickles though, it can make them a bit too sweet.
Red Wine Vinegar is less sweet and fruity then the others. It adds a delicate flavor, less sharp then white vinegar. I like to use it especially in recipes that use herbs or Italian antipasto recipes.
Rice Wine Vinegar is another slightly sweet vinegar. It is used primarily for Asian style pickles.
Balsamic is the sweetest and is not commonly used except for in fruit pickles. Double check the acidity, balsamics are often under 5%.
You can buy pickling spice mixes from a number of companies, but I like to just choose a few spices I think will go with the vegetables I am pickling. Think about what they usually go with or what you will be serving it with. I usually keep the amount of spice to around 1-2 Tbsp per jar, but more or less is acceptable. As is none. With relishes, 1 Tbsp is usually plenty since these spices are often ground so pack a bigger punch.
Quick Pickle Brines
With these brines you can pickle pretty much anything. If it is something you would eat raw, simply pour the hot brine over. If it is something you need to cook to enjoy, like beets, precook the vegetables. I like to under cook slightly because the pickling will soften them a little and I really like my pickles to crunch. The brines given are for 1/4 lb of vegetables, which comfortably fits into one pint jar. Half, double or quadruple as needed.
½ c water
½ c vinegar
¼ c sugar (more or less to taste)
1 tsp kosher salt
For Sour Pickles:
1c vinegar (or ½ water ½ vinegar for a little less sour)
2 tsp salt
Combine the brine ingredients in a non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Make sure the sugar and salt are dissolved. Pour over vegetables tightly packed into jars. Let them cool to room temperature, and then place in the fridge for at least 24 hours.
¼ c vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar (optional)
After bringing the brine to a boil, add the chopped vegetables and boil for 2- 5 minutes. The time will depend on how large the pieces are and how soft you want the texture to be. I personally don’t often add sugar, but I you prefer a sweeter relishes feel free to add some.
The Simplest, Quickest Pickles
These onions will pickle in as little as 15 minutes, though the flavor will improve if left over night.
1 cup vinegar
2 tsp salt
½ lb red onions (if spring onions or shallots are available, these work beautifully)
Bread and Butter Radishes
1 recipe sweet pickle brine
1 bunch radishes
1/2 teaspoon yellow or brown mustard seed
1/4 teaspoon whole coriander seed
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 medium dried bay leaf
Pickled Zucchini Slices
1 recipe sour pickle brine
1 zucchini or summer squash, cut into slices
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp dill seed
1 tsp pepper flakes (optional)
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp coriander
2-3 sprigs of fresh dill (or 2 tsp dried dill)
Sweet Hotdog Relish
1 red bell pepper finely diced
1 small red onion finely diced
1 small cucumber finely diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 recipe relish brine
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp ground pepper
What other veggies can you pickle?
Carrots are a classic, with either cumin or hot pepper flakes or both.
Sugar snap peas make a lovely sweet pickle. I like to add mint
Pickled garlic is a great addition to lots of dishes. You can also pickle the garlic scapes.
Any baby veggies, squash for example, can be pickled whole, though it will take a bit longer to pickle.
What to do with your pickles:
They make a great addition to antipasti trays and most pickled veggies work well with creamy cheeses and salami.
All of these pickles can be added to salads, especially picnic salads like potato, bean salad, macaroni salad ect.
Use longer pickles (asparagus or greenbeans) as a garnish for a Bloody Mary.