WHAT ARE QUICK PICKLED VEGETABLES?
Quick pickled vegetables are easy-to-make refrigerator pickles that don’t involve a hot-water canning process, like traditional pickled foods do.
While the pickling process can seem a little intimidating, with a few simple ingredients and tools, we can all be pickling-pros in no time.
Shelf stable pickling requires specific fermentation and canning equipment. However, the quick pickling method requires just a pot, a heat source, and some airtight jars.
Making quick pickled vegetables is an easy way to start venturing into the world of pickling. It’s also an affordable and delicious way to preserve your favorite vegetables and fruits.
No, quick pickled vegetables don’t have the depth of flavor of a traditionally fermented pickle. But, most canned pickles don’t have that bright flavor and crunchy texture that a refrigerator pickle has. Plus, they can be used in a wide range of applications, where a regular pickle might not.
Essentially, a quick pickle is a vegetable brined in a solution of vinegar, water, salt and sugar.
It’s important to note that because quick pickles aren’t canned, they must be stored in the refrigerator. They won’t last nearly as long as a properly canned item, so it’s best to make them in small batches.
NAN’S TIP: BEFORE STARTING ANY PICKLE RECIPE, BE SURE TO NOTE IF THE INSTRUCTIONS REQUIRE A HOT WATER CANNING PROCESS. THE INGREDIENT RATIO MIGHT NEED TO BE CHANGED TO BECOME A QUICK PICKLED VEGETABLE RECIPE. (quick pickles generally need more sugar and salt)
HOW TO PICKLE EVERYTHING GUIDE PDF
Today’s post isn’t just about the wonderful world of quick pickled vegetables though. We’re going to explore how to pickle fruits, meats and seafood too!
There’s an whole world of pickled foods out there to discover, and I’ll start by sharing an incredible resource that I’ve created.
In my 10-page How to Pickle Everything Guide, I’ve gathered all the information you’ll need to get started making homemade pickled foods. From vegetables, to fruits, meats and seafood, this how to pickle everything guide has it all in one convenient resource.
Before you know it, you’ll be trying to pickle everything you bring home from the grocery store!
I’ll tell you how to get your copy later in this article.
WE’LL START OUT NICE-&-EASY – Quick Pickled Vegetables
Step One: Pick & Prep Your Vegetables
Most vegetables should be pickled in their raw state, however, many actually benefit from a brief blanching before being placed in the brine. The exceptions are some root vegetables like beets that need to be fully cooked before pickling.
In order to help the vegetables evenly absorb the pickling flavors, you’ll want to cut your vegetables into uniform slices and pieces. Here’s a job for my mandoline! I love to have a chance to use it whenever I can. It’s my all time favorite kitchen tool.
Just be sure to use the safety hand guard, or invest in a pair of cut-resistant gloves.
Here’s how to prep many of the types of produce you’ll want to make into quick pickled vegetables:
RAW VEGETABLES –
- Cucumbers – slice or crinkle cut into rounds or cut lengthwise into halves or quarters
- Hot or Mild Chili Peppers – whole or seeded and halved
- Squashes – whole miniatures like patty pans/sliced lengthwise/ thick strips (don’t make slices too thin)
- Mushrooms – whole or larger cut into quarters or slices
- Scallions – trim root ends and cut tops to the length to fit your jars/bottles
- Sunchokes/Jerusalem Artichokes – peel and slice or quarter
- Radishes – trim root ends and leaves, thinly slice or quarter
- Sweet Bell Peppers – take out stem and cut into lengthwise strips or rings
- Ramps/Leeks – trim root ends and cut tops to the length to fit your jars/bottles
- Firm Avocado – peel, cut into thick slices
- Cauliflower – cut into bite-size florets
- Chinese Corn – These come pre-cooked, ready to pop into a brine
BLANCHED VEGETABLES –
- Asparagus – trim bottoms to fit jars
- Green Beans – Trim stem end and leave whole
- Broccoli – cut into bite-size florets
- Corn – blanch on the cob, cut off before pickling or cut cobs into thick slices
- Carrots – peel, slice into thin coins or lengthwise strips to fit jars
- Okra – leave whole, trim stem if necessary
- Garlic – peel whole cloves or cut tops off whole head and pickle with peel on
- Pearl Onions – blanching is strictly for removing skins; trim root ends, place in water for 1 minute and remove to ice bath
- Tomatoes – leave stem on tomato, blanching is strictly for removing skins; place in water for 1 minute and remove to ice bath, slide off skin – leave whole
How To Blanch Vegetables:
- Place a large pot of water on high heat, cover and bring to a boil
- Add one type of prepared vegetable to boiling water, cover and set timer for 4 minutes
- Prepare an ice-water bath in a large bowl, 50:50 ratio
- When blanching time is up, remove vegetables with a spider or slotted spoon (if you need water for more vegetables) or drain
- Immediately plunge blanched vegetables into ice-water bath until completely cooled; drain
NAN’S TIP: Make pickled vegetable “noodles” by placing spiralized zucchini or carrots into your favorite brine!
FULLY-COOKED VEGETABLES FOR PICKLING
- Beets – boil or roast whole beets, peel and slice/quarter
- Rutabagas – peel and roast rutabaga chunks
- Parsnips – peel, cut into thin lengthwise strips and cook in boiling water for 3 minutes
- Turnips – peel and roast turnip chunks
Step 2: Choose The Vinegar For Your Quick Pickled Vegetables
Just as there are endless vegetables to pickle, there’s also a plethora of options when it comes to vinegars for your brine. You can use your favorite ones, or experiment with different kinds for different vegetables.
- White vinegar is the most basic, cheapest, all-purpose option for quick pickles, but doesn’t lend any flavor
- I find apple cider vinegar too harsh and overpowering for quick pickled vegetables, but that’s just my personal preference
- Try using rice vinegar or champagne vinegar for more delicate vegetables like squash or mushrooms
- You can also use a balsamic vinegar, but it will color your vegetables pink or red. I like to mix it with white vinegar to dilute it’s coloring power
- Two of my favorite vinegars for quick pickled vegetables are white wine and sherry vinegars. They lend fabulous flavor to green beens, carrots and especially asparagus.
Step 3: Make A Quick Pickling Brine
We’re finally ready to start making our pickling brine!
A basic brine is a pretty straight-forward equation of:
50% Water + 50% Vinegar + Sugar + Salt = Quick Pickled Vegetable Brine
All pickling brine recipes will require you to heat the mixture to dissolve the sugar and salt. Both help to cut the acidity of the vinegar in your brine mixture.
Now the fun and your creativity come into play!
Once you have your basic brine, it’s time to add various spices, herbs and other flavorings. You can always stick with a simple, spice-free brine. But if you’re going to the trouble of making homemade quick pickled vegetables, why not throw in some herbs and spices?
Beware though, whole spices pack a lot of flavor, and a little goes a long way. But don’t let that scare you off, the flavor possibilities are truly endless!
- Fresh herbs: dill, basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme or tarragon
- Seeds: caraway, dill seed, mustard seed
- Fresh, peeled ginger root (great with japanese radishes!)
- Hot or mild chili peppers
- Whole peppercorns, red pepper flakes
- Spices: ground tumeric, coriander or cumin
- Fresh cloves of garlic or red onions (which are fabulous pickled too!)
Just start playing around with different combinations of vinegars and flavorings. You’ll end up with an amazing array of your very own quick pickled vegetables.
Step 4: It’s Time To Fill Your Sterilized Jars
You won’t be using a “canning process method” when making quick pickled vegetables, but you’ll still benefit from having the right tools for the job.
Here’s a sneak peek at one of the pages in the How To Pickle Everything Guide that tells you what equipment you’ll be needing.
Once your vegetables and brine are prepared, it’s time to fill your clean jars.
Most people choose plain Mason jars/lids, because they produce reliable results and last forever. You need only purchase new inner-lids each year if you keep your rings dry and rust-free.
But, since I give lots of gifts from my kitchen, I tend to use all kinds of shapes and sizes. I’m especially fond of the rubber-gasket clip-lid glass jars that you’ll see lots of my quick pickled vegetables in.
Quick pickled vegetables really need to be stored in glass jars with lids. Much the same as with items that are hot-canned, and those will last for over a year if properly processed.
But that’s a whole different kind of pickling process. Both processes require you to sterilized the jars and lids though, because even the smallest amount of bacteria will ruin your pickling efforts.
Before using your jars, wash them and the lids in your dishwasher on the sanitizing setting. Leave them inside the hot dishwasher until you’re at the stage of filling them with the vegetables.
NAN’S TIP: IF YOU’RE MAKING A LARGE AMOUNT OF QUICK PICKLED VEGETABLES, MAKE SURE TO USE SMALLER JARS. ONCE OPEN, THEY LOOSE THEIR FRESHNESS QUICKLY.
Note in the picture of my Perfectly Pickled Asparagus and Easy Refrigerator Pickled Carrots, I use the white plastic screw-on lid for lots of my quick pickled vegetables. I like the way they look, and they don’t rust. Of course, they’re not safe to use for any hot-canned pickling process.
Some rules and tips for quick pickled vegetables:
- Remember that you’ll need about an inch of headroom at the top of the jar, while still completely covering the vegetables with your brine. It’s best to fill the jars very full of your prepped veggies before adding your hot brine.
- Take care when adding herbs, garlic or colored peppers to make sure you can see them from the outside of the jars. Think pretty!
- Lastly, simply fill the jars with the hot brine, seal with the appropriate lid and let cool for 2 hours. Transfer to the refrigerator when cool.
- Most quick pickled vegetables will be ready to eat within 24 hours or so and will last about 2 months in the refrigerator.
NAN’S TIP: QUICK PICKLED ONIONS WILL ONLY LAST 12-14 DAYS.
When I was working on my Ultimate Holiday Bar Cart series, I wanted some creative cocktail garnishes. So, I came up with this duo for my Big Batch Bloody Mary Mix Recipe and Cocktail Garnishes For Entertaining A Crowd.
I also included them in a huge antipasto board for Thanksgiving weekend. They were a real hit!
I went a little nuts this past holiday season, especially for New Year’s Eve! Check out some of the fabulous holiday posts when you have a chance!
HOW TO MAKE PICKLED FRUITS TOO
Here in the South, summertime means plenty of fresh fruit picked at its peak.
We all know fruit doesn’t stay fresh very long. So for decades Southern homemakers have turned to the art of pickling to hang onto Summer a little while longer.
You can find pickled okra skewered atop a Bloody Mary drink, just a easily as a bowl of Pickled Plums here in North Carolina. Southerners do love their pickles! If you’ve never tried a pickled fruit, now’s the time, and you’ll have the recipes!
What can you do with your pickled fruits?
- Add to an appetizer cheese plate
- Make a fabulous Summer salad with pickled peaches, toasted walnuts, romaine lettuce and blue cheese
- Include pickled cherries or plums on your charcuterie board
- Chop some pickled fruit up and pour over pound cake or ice cream with some of the juices
- Serve with roasted meats or grilled seafood
Are those enough reasons to convince you to try making some pickled fruits? If you let peach season slip away without trying your hand at pickling one of the South’s favorite fruits, you’ll be sorry!
Here’s some of the kinds of fruits that make fabulous “pickles”:
- Grapes – leave whole
- Blueberries – leave whole
- Strawberries – whole or halved
- Peaches – Blanch to peel skin, slice or halve
- Plums – Slice or halve
- Nectarines – slice or halve
- Apples – peeled and sliced
- Watermelon rind – blanch before pickling
- Cherries – sweet or sour, pitted
- Pears – cored and sliced or quartered
- Lemon/Limes – thinly sliced and seeded
- Melon balls
WARM SPICES AND HERBS MAKE FABULOUS FRUITY PICKLES
Pickled peaches sharing the platter with a Roasted Pork Loin for a lovely winter dinner.
Redolent with cinnamon, star anise and maybe some ginger, pickled fruits lend both sweetness and sass to any meal they accompany.
Remember when we talked about using balsamic vinegar? Here’s where it really shines! I’m absolutely in love with fruit flavored balsamic vinegars from my local specialty shoppe. My favorites are blueberry and pomegranate for salad dressings, glazes and sauces.
And as you can guess, using a fruit imbued balsamic in place of a regular one just ups the flavor profile a notch or two higher. Of course, with a light fruit like apples, you want to steer clear of a dark colored vinegar.
You’ll have all the information you need on how to pickle fruits by downloading the How to Pickle Everything Guide PDF.
Click here to get my recipe for Vanilla Spiced Cherries or Plums to get you started with fabulous fruity pickles.
PICKLED SEAFOOD IS DIVINE IN THE SUMMER
Wondering how to quick pickle seafood?
It’s a very similar process, but it adds oil to the pickling mixture to help “preserve” the shrimp while your brine is doing its work.
And that adds a whole new dimension of flavor choices, now doesn’t it? Remember how we chose different vinegars for our quick pickled vegetables? Well, now we can pick complementary oils to make fabulous pickled seafoods too!
I’ve used avocado oil with shrimp and walnut oil with mussels, and both were simply delicious.
Of course, you’ll want to add a citrus of some kind and maybe some garlic too. Both pair well with seafood and produce stellar results. Don’t forget some fresh herbs too, like tarragon or dill. I can taste them already!
I’ll bet you’ve probably heard of, and tasted a Southern favorite, Pickled Shrimp.
Here’s some other types of seafood that are outstanding when pickled too:
- Mussels – lightly steam to open before pickling
- Herring – lightly steam before placing into brine
- Abalone – tenderize by slashing shallow slits in surface of abalone and parboil prior to pickling
- Scallops – lightly steam before placing into brine
- Cuttlefish/squid/octopus – same preparation as abalone
- Shrimp/Prawns – lightly steamed and peeled
I’ve included 2 fabulous seafood brines in the How to Pickle Everything Guide, so I’m not going to go into great detail in this post. It’s getting pretty long as it is!
But here’s the link for the recipe for my Spicy Lemon Pickled Shrimp to get start off right!
PICKLING MEATS – Corned Beef & Pickled Pork
It’s hard to imagine someone who doesn’t love taking a bite out of a huge deli sandwich piled high with thinly sliced corned beef!
Now that we live in a small southern town, it’s not as easy to get great “deli” here as when we lived in a big city like Miami. So over the last few years I’ve resigned myself to making my own corned beef. I haven’t had the fortitude to attempt pastrami, but that’s a much more involved process. Maybe some day…
“Pickling” beef or pork is really the same as for vegetables, but the brine proportions and flavorings change accordingly.
The biggest difference is the use of what is called “Pink Salt”.
What is Pink Salt?
- Pink salt, or saltpeter, is the reason why corned beef is pink. It is a mixture of sodium chloride and sodium nitrite that is dyed pink to prevent people from confusing it with regular salt.
- The nitrites not only give us the beautiful pink color but also help preserve the meat (by inhibiting the growth of bacteria) and provide that tangy flavor that is characteristic to corned beef.
- So while you can certainly make corned beef without it, it won’t taste and look the same.
- IMPORTANT:Make sure you’re buying pink CURING salt and not pink Himalayan salt, which is entirely different. Also, you will often find pink curing salt labeled as Curing Salt #1 and Curing Salt #2. Do not buy the #2, as that is used for air cured meats, like salami and pepperoni, that won’t be cooked.
I’m not one to re-invent the wheel. And since I’ve put together such a comprehensive article on pickling everything in sight, I’m going to have a really talented cook teach you this pickling technique.
Her name is Olivia Mesquita, and she has a great site called Olivia’s Cuisine – Food Without Borders.
Her article on how to make corned beef from scratch, with her own blend of pickling spices, mind you, is absolutely incredible. She really lays the process out in an easy-to-understand way that anyone can finish with a fabulous hunk of corned beef.
I couldn’t have done any better myself. Enjoy her fine article, tips and recipe!
Click this link to read the post: How to Make Corned Beef From Scratch
HOW TO PICKLE EVERYTHING GUIDE PDF
If you want to have everything you need to know about pickling right at your fingertips, then you’re going to need this fabulous resource!
Have all the information on how to pickle so many things into tasty nibbles like:
- Fruits – Cherries, peaches, plums, watermelon and more
- Fresh vegetables – cauliflower, green beans, okra, radishes and more
- Corned Beef and Pickled Pork recipes
- Pickled Seafood – Shrimp, mussels and scallops
Just download the FREE PDF, and you’re in business.
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