The Beginner’s Guide to Pickling Vegetables

Do you love the salty goodness of a great pickle? You can add that same briny flavor to just about any vegetable using a simple, quick process called pickling. Pickling came about thousands of years ago as a way to preserve fresh vegetables. The combination of vinegar and salt keeps vegetables from spoiling.

New to pickling? Here’s how to get started.

The Step-By-Step Process

To quickly pickle vegetables at home, follow this simple process:

Wash and cut your veggies. You can slice them into any shape you like.

  1. The flavor of some vegetables, like beets, carrots and peppers, is enhanced by blanching them first. Learn how here.
  2. Divide veggies among pint-sized jars or another type of heatproof container.
  3. Add flavor with seasonings. Dill, garlic and oregano are popular choices. If you like spicy food, add a chopped jalapeno pepper to each jar.
  4. Now make the brine! For a sour brine, combine three cups white vinegar, three cups water, two tablespoons plus two teaspoons sea salt and two tablespoons sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and stir until the salt is dissolved. Boil for two minutes and remove from heat. For a sweet brine, combine three cups white vinegar, three cups water, one and a half cups sugar and one tablespoon plus one teaspoon sea salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Boil for two minutes before removing from heat.
  5. Add the brine to your jars. Fill each jar to within a half inch of the top. Ensure the vegetables are completely covered. Place lids on the jars, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving. (Some veggies will need to sit in the fridge a bit longer. Turnips and okra will need at least a week.)

Learn more about food storage.

More Pickling Tips

  • Make sure to scrub your vegetables thoroughly before you begin the pickling process.
  • If you have hard water, consider using distilled water. Water with high mineral levels can lower your brine acidity.
  • You can add flavors by using different varieties of vinegar. You can use any variety you like as long as it has at least 5 percent acetic acid.
  • Table salt will make your pickles cloudy. Use pure sea salt or salt labeled “pickling” or “canning” salt.

From cucumbers and mushrooms to summer squash and cauliflower, you can pickle just about any vegetable. You’ll be amazed at the culinary results you can create inside a jar.

Have you ever tried pickling? Leave your tips for others by commenting below.

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