My garden is convinced it’s the end of June.
Except it’s actually nearing the end of August.
That’s a problem when frosts can come as early as mid-September… Truthfully, I’m not holding my breath that I’ll have the opportunity to can giant batches of tomatoes or cucumbers like last year. (Learn how to safely can anything here) So instead, I’m focusing on the produce that is trickling into my kitchen in small handfuls.
And what doesn’t get eaten as a snack or cooked for supper? Well, it gets turned into quick pickled vegetables.
A Guide to Quick Pickled Vegetables
What is Quick Pickling?
It’s so simple I don’t know why more folks don’t talk about this. Quick pickling, also known as refrigerated pickles, is an easy way to preserve almost every type of vegetable. In a nutshell: you simply cover fresh veggies in a brine solution and pop ’em in the fridge. The only hard part really is that you have to wait a little while to dive in, just so the brine has time to infuse into the veggies. But then you can snack on them any time, or add them to a cheese board with crackers, cheese, and meat and call it “supper.”
Quick pickled veggies will last for a several months in the fridge, so that summer goodness can make you smile for a good chunk of the fall season.
Why Quick Pickle Your Veggies?
Quick pickled vegetables don’t develop the same deep flavor as fermented foods (like my fermented pickles recipe), and they don’t stay preserved as long as my canned goods, but quick pickling allows for a lot of freedom. You can…
- Enjoy Small Batches: Quick pickling doesn’t require a huge bushel of vegetables. Just toss together a small batch of whatever veggies you have.
- Very Little Equipment: You don’t need canning supplies or special ingredients for quick pickling. You probably have exactly what you need in your pantry right now.
- Save Every Garden Veggie: I hate it when a small handful of beans gets old in the fridge as I wait for enough to make a meal. But I can make a pint of random pickled veggies any time. Problem solved.
- Mix and Match: I love this part about quick pickling! You can fill a pint jar with bits and pieces of whatever spare items you walk in from the garden with! If you have one carrot, a small pepper, and only one cucumber, that’s okay. You have the makings for a gorgeous, tasty jar of pickled veggie treats.
- Avoid the Heat: No need to stand in a hot kitchen preserving anything. Nice bonus, right?
- Make ’em Fast: They’re called “quick” for a reason. And they’re perfect for busy folks like you and I.
- Be Creative: Swap vinegars and spices and veggie choices. Honestly, there may be an infinite combination of quick pickled veggies.
What You’ll Need for Quick Pickling:
Fruits or Veggies
Most folks just think of pickling cucumbers, but you can also make quick pickles with green beans, beets, bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, asparagus, radishes, squash, tomatoes, onions, and more.
You can also quick pickle fruits! Peaches, watermelon, blueberries, and more.
Basically, if it’s an edible fruit or veggie, you can probably pickle it. What can’t you quick pickle? The only produce that shouldn’t be pickled are delicate veggies like leafy greens and lettuces.
Quick Pickle Equipment
Quick Pickling Brine Tips:
The brine is probably the most important part of the quick pickling process. It not only preserves the veggies or fruits, it also brings the flavor to the recipe.
Quick pickle brine is made up of vinegar, salt, water, and the optional sugar. The most important thing to know about your brine? In order to keep out any harmful bacteria, you need a quick pickling brine with a 1:1 ratio of vinegar to water.
An Overview of Brine Ingredients:
Vinegar: You can use almost any basic vinegar for your pickling brine. This includes distilled white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, and rice vinegar. You can either use them alone or combine them to make creative brine solutions. But avoid using aged or concentrated vinegars like balsamic or malt vinegar. The most commonly used vinegars for quick pickles is apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar.
The Basic Brine Formula:
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
Quick Pickling Flavor Options:
You can be super creative with your quick pickled vegetables. Seriously, the sky’s the limit!
Here are some ideas for pickling flavors:
- Fresh or Dried Herbs–including dill, thyme, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, bay leaf, etc.
- Whole Spices–black peppercorns, coriander, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, etc.
- Ground Spices–turmeric, paprika, pickling spice mix, spice blends, etc.
- Misc items–garlic, onion, shallots, fresh ginger, dried chili peppers, fresh hot peppers, horseradish, etc.
How to Make Quick Pickled Vegetables
This basic recipe makes 2 pint jars of quick pickles.
- Vegetables of choice (approx. 1 pound)
- Fresh or dried herbs, spices, or flavors of choice
- 1 cup vinegar of choice (see notes above)
- 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp. salt (I use this salt)
- 1 tbsp. sugar (optional, see notes above)
- Clean your mason jars and set aside.
- Prepare your vegetables. Wash and dry, and then figure out if you want them whole or thinly sliced, cut into spears, peeled, etc.
- Put your preferred flavors, spices, and herbs in the bottom of the mason jars.
- Pack vegetables into the jars. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace. Pack them in tightly without smushing them up.
- Make your brine: Put your brine ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally to dissolve the salt and (optional) sugar.
- Pour the brine over the produce in the jars. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace.
- Remove any air bubbles (this tool comes in handy) and put the lids on the jars.
- Let the jars cool to room temperature on your kitchen counter, then refrigerate.
- Wait at least 48 hour before eating the pickled veggies to let the flavors meld together.
- Quick pickled produce can be stored in your fridge for up to 2 months.
Pickled Veggie FAQs:
Q: Can I water bath can these pickled veggies?
A: It’s best to stick with proven recipes designed for canning, just to make sure you have the proper acid levels. I explain more about the ins and out of canning here.
Q: What do I do with the finished pickles?
A: Snacking is our favorite way to eat them, but they also make wonderful additions to appetizer platters, charcuterie boards, or salads.
Q: Can I use another container to hold the pickles instead of a mason jar?
A: Sure! Just avoid using metal or plastic, as they can leach unwanted flavors into your pickles.