Pickling fruits and vegetables is a delicious way to utilize all the beautiful produce from your garden or the farmers market. You can pickle just about anything, which means you won’t see an abundance of uneaten produce go to waste. Fresh produce will produce the crispiest texture. Pickling is about the vinegar and salt, not the sweetness so watch for recipes that call for more than ¼ cup of sugar. Salt helps balance flavors and draws water out of vegetables, which also improves the texture of pickled produce. You never want to substitute table salt for Kosher or Himalayan salt. Balance out your vinegar with water to keep flavors from being too harsh and biting. Your vinegar should have at least 4-6% acetic acid. Red wine vinegar will turn all your fruits and vegetables pink! Don’t be afraid to use fresh herbs and to try new combinations. You’ll find your favorite recipes have six to eight spices. Pickle your produce separately, as certain fruits and vegetables will be ready to eat at different rates. Softer items like onions and zucchini will pickle far more quickly than beets or carrots. Always take note of how long it took a batch to pickle so you know next time when they will be ready to eat! If they go too long the vinegar can become overwhelming and the fruits and vegetables will get droopy and soft.
Quick Sour Pickle Brine Base
You can use this brine with any type of vegetable, and the vinegars and spices can be easily interchanged.
DIY Pickling Spice: store in a glass, airtight container for 1 year
Directions for Refrigerator Pickles:
Cut your vegetables into spears or desired shape and pack them into sterile glass jars. In a large saucepan, combine your spices and brine ingredients. Heat and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Pour brine over vegetables, put lids on jars, and allow them to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate your jars for at least 24 hours. They should keep in the refrigerator for about a month. Always label and date your pickles!
Directions for Canning Pickles:
Sterilize your jars in hot water (above 185°F) and leave in hot water until they are ready to be filled. Try to keep canning water warm-120°F to 140°F. Cut your vegetables into spears or desired shape and pack them into sterile glass jars. In a large saucepan, combine your spices and brine ingredients. Heat and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Pour brine over vegetables, put lids on jars, and put them back into boiling water. Make sure the jars are covered by one inch of water. Boil jars for ten minutes. Remove jars and let cool and verify that they are sealed-the lid will be sucked down tightly. Wait at least 24 hours before consuming.
*Not all cucumber varieties are made to withstand brine. You want to look for cucumbers that are 4-5 inches long. They will be thicker and have a bumpy skin. They are commonly sold as “Kirby” or “Liberty” cucumbers. If you are looking for seeds to grow your own pickling cucumbers look for County Fair, National Pickling, Pickle Bush, Regal, and Saladin varieties.
Classic Dill Pickles
Hot & Spicy Jalapeno Dill Pickles
Watermelon Rind Kickers (refrigerator pickles only)
Scoop melon from rinds, leaving ¼-1/2 inch of red flesh. Using a vegetable peeler take off the tough outer green layer of rind and then cut into cubes one inch in size. Bring all other ingredients to a boil over medium heat and hold boil for 60 seconds. Carefully add the watermelon rind and return to a boil before taking the pan off the heat. Let cool for 30 minutes. Place the watermelon rinds into jars and pour as much of the pickling juices as possible over them. Cover the jar and leave at room temperature for an additional 1 ½ hours. Place them in the refrigerator for 8 hours and enjoy! Consume within one month and always keep them refrigerated. These are delicious in a salad, with anything off the grill, or as a side dish with crumbled cheese of your choice. Cantaloupe, pumpkin, or winter squash rinds can be pickled in the same way!
Pickled Asparagus or Beans
Honey Piquant Pickled Peaches
Blanch peaches in boiling water for about 2 minutes and then transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water. Let cool for 2 minutes and gently slide off peach skin with fingers. Halve peaches to remove pit and then cut into quarters. Combine ACV, water, sugar, honey and ginger and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low so it can simmer for about 4 minutes. Add peaches and cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Turn off heat and carefully remove peaches with a slotted spoon and place in glass jar with one cinnamon stick. Let pickling brine cool slightly and pour over peaches. (They will be ready to eat right away but will develop flavor if allowed to sit overnight.) Seal and store in the refrigerator for no longer than two weeks. These peaches can be canned, but need to be processed for 25 minutes in boiling water. You can also substitute this recipe with apples or pears!
Savory Pickled Strawberries
Wash berries and remove stems. If larger than one inch across, halve or quarter them. Combine the vinegar with 1/3 cup distilled water, sugar, sea salt and black pepper in a pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Stir until sugar and salt dissolve. Place tarragon, thyme and lemon peel in a 1-liter jar and gently add berries. Pour the pickling brine over berries and let cool on counter until they reach room temperature. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour before eating. Eat on avocado toast, pair with a creamy cheese, add to salads, or eat right from the jar. Save the brine to make a fantastic vinaigrette.
Lime Cilantro Squash Pickles
Divide the sliced squash, onion, garlic, peppercorns, chili flakes, coriander, cilantro, limejuice and twists into three pint-sized mason jars. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the vinegar, water, salt and honey to a boil. Pour brine into jars, and press down on the vegetables until they are covered completely. Let cool, uncovered on counter to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours. The best flavor will come after two days! These will keep in the refrigerator for 2 months.
Russian Pickled Cherries
Place the cherries in a stainless steel or glass bowl and cover with ACV. Gently shake the bowl to help cover cherries completely in vinegar. Cover tightly with lid or plastic wrap and let soak overnight. Drain the vinegar off of the cherries into a saucepan with a colander. Return cherries to bowl and cover. Add the sugar, water, and spices to the vinegar and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer pickling brine for 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat, cover and let cool completely. Stir in the kirsch and pour pickling brine over the cherries. Shake gently again to ensure they are all immersed and cover tightly. Let stand at room temperature for 3 days. Drain the liquid from the cherries back into the saucepan and bring to a boil. During this time, transfer cherries into 4 pint-sized mason jars. Once liquid is boiling, remove for heat, cover and let cool to room temperature. Pour pickling brine over cherries. Wipe rims of jars with a paper towel dipped in ACV and then fix the jars into place. Store in a cool, dark place for one month before eating. They will stay preserved for one year!
Orange & Spice Pickled Beets
Wash beets and remove tops. Place in a large stockpot and cover with water 3 inches over the top. Bring to a boil at high heat and then lower temperature to maintain a slow rolling boil. Cook until beets are tender-about 40 minutes. If you like a crisper beet only boil for 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Slip skins off with fingertips-this will stain your skin so you may want to use gloves. Slice beets evenly and set aside. Place the ACV, water, sea salt, allspice, pickling spice, honey and orange juice into a saucepan and bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Place the beets into canning jars with orange zest and freshly grated ginger. Pour the pickling brine over the beets, cover and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate one week before tasting. Pickled beets can last for up to 6 months in the refrigerator. You can use this brine for to make pickled eggs! Do not leave them in the brine for more than 3 days, as they will turn rubbery.