How to Pickle Vegetables
Cool, refreshing pickles right out of the fridge are one of life’s simplest pleasures. Unfortunately, store-bought pickles also tend to come with lots of unwanted ingredients, like high levels of sodium, that aren’t good for your health. Pickling at home is a great alternative because you can control the amount and type of ingredients you add to the mix. And pickling isn’t just for cucumbers, either. You can preserve a wide variety of other veggies this way so you can enjoy them for weeks to come. Best of all, pickling vegetables is easy! Let’s take a look.
Step 1: Choose your veggies.
As mentioned, pickling can be done with almost any vegetable you like, including carrots, asparagus, cauliflower, green beans and even eggplant. Different veggies will need to be prepared in different ways, and you may decide to tweak the other flavors you add, like vinegar and garlic, to better compliment the particular product you’re pickling.
Step 2: Prepare your vegetables.
Some veggies are better pickled when they are thinly sliced, like cucumbers, ginger and summer squash. Others, like carrots, are better when they’re simply peeled or cut into spears. Some people choose to blanch their green beans prior to pickling because it preserves the color and makes them look more appetizing once they’re pickled. Once you’ve chosen the particular veggies you’d like to pickle, do some research to see the best way to prepare them.
Step 3: Prepare the brine.
The brine is the “juice” that the vegetables will marinate in and eventually become pickled. There are a variety of different ways to prepare brine and it ultimately depends on each individual’s personal tastes and preferences. Basic brine consists of equal parts water and vinegar, but again, you should feel free to experiment and adjust the ratio to your liking. Most types of vinegar are fine, including white, white wine, rice and apple cider vinegar. Avoid vinegars that are aged or concentrated, like malt or balsamic as they are not very good for pickling.
To prepare the brine, combine the desired ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over high heat. Bring the liquid to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Step 4: Customize your pickle flavors.
The spices you add to the brine are what create truly unique and flavorful pickled vegetables. Classic dill pickles, for instance, are simply cucumbers flavored in brine containing garlic, dill seed and other spices. Other classic combos include squash with garlic and onion, tomatoes with garlic and black peppercorn and green beans with garlic and fresh dill. For more exotic flavors, consider adding savory spices like ginger, coriander, thyme and turmeric.
Step 5: Prepare the Jars
For best results, wide-mouth, pint-sized mason jars with lids and rings are recommended. Thoroughly clean the jars, lids and rings using warm, soapy water and be sure to rinse well. Dry by hand or set aside to dry.
Step 6: Fill the jars.
Add the desired flavors and spices to the mason jars and then pack in the veggies. Be sure to leave ½ inch of space between the rim of the jar and the tops of the vegetables. Pack the veggies in as tight as you can without damaging them. Carefully pour the brine over the vegetables, again leaving ½ inch of space at the top. Tap the jars gently against the counter to remove any air bubbles and add more brine if necessary.
Step 7: Seal and refrigerate.
Place the lids over the mason jars and seal them tightly. Allow the jars to cool to room temperature before transferring them to the refrigerator. Remember, the longer you let your pickles marinate, the more flavorful they’ll be so try to be patient! A rule of thumb is to wait at least 48 hours before cracking them open, but longer is better. Pickles can be stored in the fridge for up to two months.
So, there you have it. A quick, easy way to pickle your favorite vegetables without all the added ingredients you don’t want. What are you waiting for? Whip up a batch today and enjoy!