Whether you’ve just purchased loads of produce at your local farmer’s market or your garden has provided a plethora of wholesome veggies, quick pickling is a fun way to enjoy summer’s fresh harvest.
If you can’t get enough of that tangy flavor or just want to share it with some friends, we’ll show you how it’s done!
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Quick pickling is the process of adding a vegetable and/or other ingredients to a food storage container (typically a mason jar), then adding hot brine and flavoring ingredients. The brine is usually made with equal parts vinegar and water, some salt, and sometimes, sugar.
After storing your filled jar at room temperature long enough for it to cool, you can keep it in the fridge. A few days of soaking is all it takes before you have a jar of pickled goodness. A shift in color, texture, and flavor all occur during this process.
This is different from regular pickling, however, as it doesn’t require any canning. It’s also an easier, more convenient way to pickle foods, but it does have two slight downsides.
First, quick-pickled foods must be refrigerated, and second, they won’t last as long as regular canned pickles once they’re prepared.
Beyond cucumbers, there are so many wonderful foods you can quick pickle, you can get pretty creative with your choices. From dilly beans to eggs, check out our list of quick-pickled ingredients.
You can quick-pickle just about any vegetable you can think of, and feel free to adjust y our flavorings based on what you are making. Hearty vegetables, like beets, carrots, and parsnips, all do best if sliced thin to ensure the brine works its way through.
All of the following can be quick pickled:
- Green Beans
- Red Onion
Most veggies taste great with equal parts water and vinegar, a teaspoon of salt, and any other flavorings of choice.
Believe it or not, fruit tastes really good when pickled. After all, you’re just adding a bit of tarty tang to that sweet produce. The combo is stellar once your product is ready for munching.
Try any of these:
- Melons and rinds
Because fruits boast a sweet, delicate touch, you’ll want to use white (or red) wine, champagne, or apple cider vinegar instead of traditional white vinegar. That’s because behind all that tangy vinegar is a fruit, be it grapes or apples, and you’ll get a milder flavor from these.
Add a few tablespoons of sugar to dull down the sharpness of the vinegar, and you’ll have a brine you’ll love.
In addition to fruits and veggies, a few other unique ingredients taste really yummy after bathing in a homemade brine. We recommend the following:
While experimenting with these foods is super fun, feel free to start with some recipes online, and keep in mind that meat won’t last more than a few days once it’s cooked and pickled.
Quick pickling is as simple as it gets, not to mention, once it’s all jarred up, it’s a really nice gift to give a family member or friend or take to a picnic. We’ll walk you through how it’s done!
Whether you plan to quick-pickle a dozen eggs or finally make those pickled beets like mom used to, you’ll need a few things.
Quick pickled foods don’t require fancy jars. In fact, a repurposed pickle jar will get the job done. However, if you plan on gifting a jar or you don’t have something you can use at home, a pack of Ball Mason jars will get the job done.
Remember, there are several different types of vinegar to try for quick pickling, but white is as basic as it gets. Feel free to try apple cider or any red or white wine vinegar, too. Just stay away from balsamic or malt, as these concentrated aged vinegars don’t quite give you the same results.
If you want to keep things simple, feel free to grab a bag of pickling spices made for canning, making corned beef, and flavoring other preserved foods.
Now that you know all the ingredients you can quick pickle, it’s time to make your selections—fruit, veggies, eggs, or anything else you have on hand. Try one or two variations first, then work your way through a list until you’ve reached your goal.
Once you’ve selected your veggies or fruits, it’s time to prepare them. Start by giving them a good wash with cold water and dry them off. Some veggies will do best with these additional prep steps:
- Carrots: Peel before pickling. Smaller and thinner carrots can be washed and put into the brine, but thicker carrots do better when thinly sliced or cut into thin spears.
- Green beans: Blanch green beans to preserve color (optional).
- Red onion: Thinly slice, then pull apart layers before pickling.
- Beets: Beets do best if boiled and peeled, then sliced and pickled.
- Radishes: Thinly slice before pickling.
- Ginger: Thinly slice, or grate if using as a flavoring agent.
- Fruits: Remove stems and leaves of any fruit you plan to use.
Once your ingredient of choice is prepared, pack it in the jar tightly, leaving at least half an inch of room at the top from the rim of the jar.
To reach optimal flavor beyond tangy vinegar, you’ll want to add a few select ingredients that’ll really give your jarred treat a powerful punch. Beyond a few tablespoons of pickling spices, there are plenty of ways to flavor, including:
- Garlic cloves: Grate, slice, smash or add a few whole. These taste delicious pickled on their own, too.
- Ground or whole spices: Peppercorns, mustard seeds, pepper flakes, paprika all work great.
- Fresh or dry herbs: Dill, rosemary, and thyme all do well, but feel free to try others.
- Fresh ginger: Peel and thinly slice before adding.
- Onion: Red onion, thinly sliced, looks lovely and adds a delicate onion flavor.
A basic brine consists of equal parts water and vinegar (one cup each), and the ratio can easily be adjusted depending on preference. Feel free to combine various kinds of vinegar, too, if you are trying to get rid of ingredients. After all, this is your recipe.
For sweeter veggies like carrots and beets, we always add a tablespoon or so of granulated sugar, and most brines do well with a teaspoon of sea salt.
Place all brine ingredients (water, vinegar, salt, and sugar) into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let the salt and sugar dissolve. Once your brine is finished, add it to the jar.
The measurements provided will give you enough brine (and more) to add to a 16 oz mason jar like suggested above.
Leave those hot jars of brine at room temperature until it’s cooled significantly—usually a few hours. Then, just place them in the fridge. Don’t try to speed up cooling by running your jars under cold water, as this will cause them to crack or break.
Do your best to wait at least two days before cracking open a jar, as their flavor improves over time. Also, keep in mind these aren’t regularly canned foods with sealed tops, so they must remain in the fridge, where they’ll last up to two months.
Quick-pickled foods make excellent gifts. Plus, it’s an easy way to preserve extra food from your garden! fun to throw together and really present nicely. Be sure to try pickling eggs at some point—they’re delicious!