Kitchen Basics: How To Pickle (Almost) Anything

June 9, 2015  |   Emma Zumsen
Pickling ingredients on a table
SERVING
8
DISH TYPE
Condiment
SKILL LEVEL
Beginner
TIME
20 min

Think pickles are just a minor player in burgers and sandwiches? Think again! Virtually any vegetable – and even eggs and fruit – can reach a tastier, tangier state through the magic of pickling. Pickles pack a briny zing that’s especially great with rich meat dishes, but they also make a delicious, light snack. Avoid the steep sodium content of most store-bought pickles and make your own at home—no canning required!

Perfect pickling starts with the perfect brine—and you are the judge and jury. We love the all-purpose brine recipe below, but don’t be afraid to experiment. As long as you’ve got the brine basics – vinegar, water, sugar and salt – you can change up the spices and aromatics a thousand different ways.  Play around with different types and combinations of vinegar, too.

The brine is only one way to you can pickles interesting. Avoid a pickle rut by trying a medley of different veggies. Pickled beets, turnips, celery root, green beans, carrots, asparagus, okra, parsnips and tomatillos are all a tasty departure from cucumbers—though there’s something to be said for a timeless classic. 

Ingredients

  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp mustard seeds
  • 4 C vegetables of your choice

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine, vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Stir in remaining herbs and spices. Cool brine completely before using.
  2. Slice vegetables into rounds or pieces 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick.
  3. If you’re pickling something other than cucumbers, it’s best to blanch your veggies first. Immerse them in boiling water until color brightens, ~2 minutes, then shock them in ice water. For a crunchier texture (closer to raw veggies), omit this step.
  4. Transfer brine to glass jars. Add vegetables to jars, making sure they are completely immersed in liquid. Remember, different vegetables pickle at different rates, so keep them separate.
  5. Place jars in the refrigerator and wait for the magic to happen. Most veggies will be at their pickled peak after 3 to 4 days. Heartier veggies, like beets and okra, may take up to a week. Don’t be afraid to taste test to see if they’re done.
  6. Pickled vegetables will keep, refrigerated, for up to one month.

About the author

Emma Zumsen

Emma Zumsen

Emma is a wildly curious baker, mama, creator, and reader who loves a good farmer’s market almost as much as she loves a new pair of shoes. Born in Montana and raised in Minnesota, she made her way to the east coast nine years ago where she has settled in Brooklyn with her husband and son. In an effort to channel her various interests, passions, and experiences into something productive, she divides her professional brain between food and digital marketing – both of which she finds endlessly fascinating. Emma’s two favorite foods are freshly popped popcorn shared with her kiddo and guacamole.