Pickling is an easy way to preserve fresh vegetables. Just cover them with a seasoned pickling liquid and refrigerate. Making pickled vegetables is a great technique to know, especially if you have more than you can use before they spoil. Pickled vegetables can last several days or longer in the refrigerator.
Use the following refrigerator pickle recipe as a guide. But don’t stop there. Listed below the recipe find more pickle recipes and flavor combinations from around the world.
Refrigerator Pickle Recipe
Makes one-pint pickles
- A sanitized jar (see tips below)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Optional flavorings (see suggestions below)
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups uniform vegetable pieces (chunks or slices)
- 1/2 cup vinegar or fresh lemon juice (see suggestions below), or as needed
- 1/2 cup water, or as needed
- Measure salt and optional seasonings into the jar.
- Pack jar with prepared vegetables, leaving 1 to 2 inches headspace.
- Stir together vinegar or lemon juice and water. Pour pickling liquid over vegetables to cover completely by at least one inch. If necessary, prepare and add more pickling liquid.
- Cover and refrigerate pickles. Usually best after three days. Consume within one week.
Suggested Optional Flavorings
The following list includes basic spices, herbs, and other flavoring ingredients. Find more global pickle recipes and interesting flavor combinations below.
- 1/4 to 1 teaspoon dried herbs (bay leaf, thyme, oregano, dill weed, herb blend, etc.)
- 1/4 to 1 teaspoon dried whole or ground spices (cumin, coriander, dill seed, pepper, etc.)
- Fresh herb sprigs (dill head, fennel leaves, mint leaves, thyme sprigs, etc.)
- Other flavorings, including whole or sliced peeled fresh garlic, peeled and sliced ginger root, dry or prepared mustard, nuts or seeds such as peanut or sesame
Suggested Pickling Liquids
Any acidic liquid can make a good pickling solution. The following list includes popular pickling liquids used around the world.
- Any type of vinegar: white, cider, malt, red or white wine, rice, coconut, or pineapple
- Fresh fruit juice: citrus (lemon, lime, orange), pineapple, or pomegranate
- Whey, the clear yellow liquid drain from plain organic yogurt
- Soy sauce
- Any type of miso (white, yellow, or red)
Almost any type of vegetable can be pickled.
Global Pickle Recipes
Use the above Refrigerator Pickle Recipe as a jumping off point. Add any of the optional flavor combinations below, suggested by food cultures around the world.
Classic garlic “Kosher” dill pickles (use for asparagus, cucumbers, green beans, carrots): 2-4 black peppercorns, 1 small clove garlic, 1/2 teaspoon dill seeds or 1 fresh dill head.
Classic sweet pickles (use for cucumbers, zucchini, beets, corn, peppers, onions): 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon mustard or celery seeds, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric (optional).
Whey pickles (use for carrots, radish): undiluted whey, up to 1/4 cup honey, 2-4 black peppercorns or 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes.
Italian style pickles or “giardiniera” (use for carrots, celery, cauliflower, peppers, onions, grilled eggplant): 1 small clove garlic, 1 bay leaf or 1/4 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes.
Japanese style pickles or “zuke” (use for asparagus, cabbage, cucumbers, carrots, corn, onions, daikon or radish, eggplant, turnips): rice vinegar and/or soy sauce (shoyuzuke) or miso (misozuke), 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar.
Thai style pickles (use for carrots, radish or daikon, turnips, eggplant): rice or coconut vinegar, up to 1/4 cup palm or brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes.
Indian style pickles or “achar” (use for cauliflower, grilled eggplant): malt or cider vinegar, 2-4 black peppercorns, 1-2 slices of ginger root, up to 1 tablespoon jaggery or brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and mustard seeds, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric. Chopped peanuts are a nice addition.
Persian style pickles (use for eggplant, cherry tomatoes, onions): pomegranate or lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram or several fresh basil leaves, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
Russian style “pkhali” pickles (for green beans, beets, carrots, onions): white or cider vinegar, up to 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, coriander, and thyme. Fresh cilantro and chopped walnuts may also be added.
Latino style pickles (use for cabbage, carrots, onions, peppers): white or malt vinegar or citrus juice (lime, orange, or a combination), 2-4 jalapeno slices, 1-2 cloves garlic, 1/4 teaspoon each dried oregano and ground cumin.
Tips for Making Refrigerator Pickles
- Thoroughly clean the work area, including cutting boards and utensils, and the pickling container. Use hot soapy water, rinse well with plain water and let air dry.
- Use a glass jar or covered bowl as a pickle storage container. Stainless steel is also acceptable. Do not use other metals such as aluminum or plastic containers, which can transfer flavors or are hard to clean thoroughly.
- Choose fresh vegetables that are in good condition, not wilted or bruised, moldy or spoiled. If wilted you can use them to make soup. If damaged or spoiled, they should be discarded or composted.
- Wash vegetables thoroughly and then peel or cut as desired into uniform pieces (chunks, sliced, etc.). Smaller pieces will pickle and soften more quickly. Larger pieces will stay firm and crisp longer.
- Extend the shelf life of refrigerator pickles up to 30 days by using any of the following techniques to reduce spoilage organisms:
- Blanch prepared vegetables for 1-3 minutes (thin to thick pieces, 1/4 inch to 1 inch) before placing in pickling jar.
- Cook vegetables until tender, followed by rapid cooling in ice water before placing in pickling jar. You can also pickle leftover grilled vegetables.
- Boil the pickling solution and pour the hot pickling liquid over raw, blanched, or cooked vegetables in the pickling jar.
Pickles can be made from fresh vegetables, and blanched, boiled, and grilled vegetables.
Carole Cancler is the author of The Home Preserving Bible. She has traveled to more than 20 countries on four continents to attend cooking schools and explore food markets. She studies the anthropology of food with a focus on how indigenous foods have traveled and been integrated into world cuisine. Read all of Carole's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts.
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