Quick Pickled Vegetables
Quick Pickled Vegetables are great for preserving seasonal produce as they make a zingy side dish, as crudite, for salads, on cheese platter, and more!
Briny, flavorful pickles are refreshing and simple ways to enjoy and preserve vegetables & fruits. Unlike laborious canning process or fermentation, quick pickled vegetables also known as refrigerator pickles are made with few simple ingredients such as vinegar, water, salt, sugar, and spices. Pickling have been around for thousand of years as a means of preserving vegetables for a long time especially during winter months when fresh vegetables are scarce. When vegetables and fruits are submerged in acid such as vinegar, it helps bacteria or yeasts from growing and makes it safe to eat for much longer periods of time. I usually make Quick Pickled Vegetables as a way to reduce food waste and I love that you can customize it with different vegetables, vinegar, and spices. Here I am sharing my go-to basic formula and some vegetables, fruits, & pickling spices combination to try.
Pickling calls for vegetables, fruits, vinegar, water, salt, sugar, and spices and glass jars for storing.
For Vegetables/Fruits, it is best to use fresh, seasonal produce at it's prime. If you have lots of zucchini or tomato in Summer, quick pickle them to enjoy them later early Fall or, beets are best between January - March in Texas and can be enjoyed late Spring. Some of my favorite vegetables to pickle are cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, beets, cucumbers, okra, cherry tomatoes, red onions, green beans. I haven't pickled fruits yet but apples, peaches, citrus, pears, figs are great candidates for pickling.
For Brining, the basic ratio is equal parts vinegar and water but can be adjusted to suit your taste. For vinegar, you can use white, red wine, apple cider, rice wine, champagne but avoid aged or concentrated ones like balsamic or malt. It is suggested that to use vinegar with an acetic acid content of at least 5% and if it is less than 5%, combine with other vinegar to increase the acid percentage.
Additionally, you add salt, sugar, and herbs, spices to the brine for flavor however, you want your brine to be sharp, flavorful but not sweet. For spices, mustard seed, peppercorns, and bay leaves are the classics but be open to trying other herbs and spices such as jalapeno, dill, coriander, garlic, chilies, fennel, bay leaf, thyme, mint, basil etc.
Quick Pickled Vegetables are not intended for long storage and should be enjoyed crunchy. When pickling vegetables, choose the ones that are fresh and firm and clean, trim them accordingly. Some ways to prepare different vegetables :
- Cucumbers, summer squash, ginger, red onion can be thinly sliced
- Carrots (peeled) & cucumbers can be cut into spears
- Zucchini, carrots can be ribboned like this one or into coins
- Beets and turnips can be peeled and chopped into chunks
- Green beans, okra can be blanched ahead to help preserve their color
There are few things you should keep in mind when it comes to quick refrigerated pickles:
- Do not pickle everything together and treat each vegetable uniquely because each vegetable pickle differently and at different rates. For example, delicate veggies like onions and zucchini will pickle more quickly than heartier veggies like radishes, carrots, and beets
- Strong color veggies like radish and beets may bleed color
- Garlic adds a lot of flavor to pickles but can impart green or turquoise to the mix, which is simply a reaction with acidic environment
- Taste and flavor your brine to compliment the veggies
Some veggies + herbs and spices combinations to try:
- Fennel + Turmeric + Mustard Seeds + Fennel Seeds
- Sweet Corn + Onion + Jalapeño + Cilantro
- Carrots + Fenugreek + Fennel Fronds
- Cauliflower + Tarragon Sprigs + Coriander Seed
- Okra + Mustard Seeds + Cumin Seeds + Garlic Cloves + Whole Chillies
- Beets + Cloves + Cardamom + Onion
- Grapes + Peppercorn + Cinnamon + Staranise + Cardamom
- Peaches + Cloves + Cinnamon
- Watermelon Rind + Cloves + Musard
- Blueberries + All Spice + Cloves
- Beer Pickled Vegetables // Wine Pickled Beets
Recently, I made quick refrigerated pickles with beets and carrots with herbs/spices but you can use the same basic ratio with other veggies of your choice. If you are not ready to dive into herbs and spices, here is a basic one with zucchini ribbons.
Quick Pickled Vegetables
Makes about 3-pint sizes jars
- 3 cups vinegar; i used half apple cider vinegar & white vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 2 heaping tablespoon kosher salt
- 1-2 tablespoon sugar (per taste)
- 6 garlic cloves
- 4-6 bay leaves
- 4-6 thyme
- 3-4 tablespoon coriander seed
- 3-4 tablespoon black peppercorn
- 2-3 tablespoon dill
- 1 bunch beets; ends trimmed, peeled and cubed
- 3-4 large carrot, ends trimmed, peeled and sliced into spears
- In a large saucepan, boil vinegar, water, salt, sugar, and other spices except vegetables until well dissolved.
- Pack prepared vegetables into clean canning jars with smashing them. Leave about 1/2 inch space from the rim.
- Pour pickling liquid into jars leaving 1/2 inch to the top.
- Tap jars to remove air bubbles and pour more only if necessary.
- Close the lid and let it come to room temperature.
- Store them in the refrigerator and wait 1-2 days before cracking the lid open.
- Enjoy quick refrigerated pickles for 2-3 months.
Once you explore and try quick refrigerated vegetables (or fruits), I'd love for you to dive into fermenting vegetables and fruits. It's another method of food preservation with lacto-fermentation; some common examples include kimchi, sauerkraut, Nepali mula ko achar (fermented radish) but really, you can fermented veggies, fruits, grains, dairy etc. The action of bacteria with food enhances the nutrient content, especially the vitamins, mineral become more readily available to the body and enzymes for better digestion.