How to Quick Pickle Vegetables
Preserve your end-of-the-summer harvest with these simple tips and techniques to quick pickle any fruit or veggie!
If you follow along on social media, you might have seen my recent trip to Northstar which is located on the north side of Lake Tahoe. Over the next few months I will be partnering with them to share some beautiful home tours, entertaining tips, and the beauty of Tahoe. I am thrilled about this partnership because Tahoe is a home away from home for me - to have the opportunity to share it with you is very exciting!
On my recent trip, I was lucky enough to attend the 32nd annual Food & Wine Festival. With food & wine from all over northern California, it was a huge treat! I spent the weekend bouncing back and forth between sampling delicious pairings and relaxing at the beach. I was able to take one of the classes offered at the festival - a pickling workshop with Chef Lara Ritchie from Reno's Nothing to it Cooking School (where Greg and I have taken classes in the past, and absolutely loved it!).
I was very excited about this class because preserving and canning is something I am quite interested in. Yet it can often feel daunting because of the safety precautions involved. I couldn't wait to learn from chef Lara! During the class, she taught us wonderful ways to quick pickle veggies of all kinds, and answered all of my (millions of) questions. Below, I've compiled all of the information we covered in the class, I think you will enjoy reading all of Chef Lara's tips and techniques for quick pickling!
how to quick pickle with delicious flavor
What is quick pickling?
Quick pickling is accomplished by brining fresh vegetables with salt, sugar, and vinegar; spices can also be added for more flavor. Quick pickles, also known as refrigerator pickles, are a simple way to preserve fresh vegetables without the hours of work involved in traditional pickling. Quick pickled vegetables are stored in the refrigerator and only take a few days to develop a delicious pickled flavor.
What can be quick pickled?
Any vegetable can be quick pickled, some delicious options are peppers, cauliflowers, onions, cucumbers, and asparagus. However it is important to only select the best, most fresh and crisp vegetables to be pickled. The vegetables you pickle should be free of blemish, without bruising or browning because the acid and salt will degrade the food as it ferments.
It's important to thoroughly wash and rinse the veggies you decide to pickle. Especially veggies like leeks, carrots, garlic, and onions which generally hide dirt (bacteria) in their nooks and crannies!
When cutting the vegetables, cut them all to be about the same size so that they pickle at the same rate. Not sure what size to cut? Think about what you will be using them for: Pasta? Bite size. Cheese board? A little bigger.
Lastly, keep in mind that the vegetables are the stars of the show here, so you'll want to include the most attractive parts of them, and while stems can butts can be pickled, they won't be the most attractive when served.
The Brine: Vinegar, Salt, Sugar, and Spices
The vinegar: Any vinegar (apple cider, white, rice, etc...) will work for brining and generally a 1:1 ratio of water to vinegar is a good starting point; however, Chef Lara encourages creativity here. Adding spices to your brine will only add flavor, and flavor is always a good idea, and splurging on fresh, fragrant spices is always worth it, especially when pickling.
The salt: You don't have to find the most rare kind of salt, just use a good, clean, pure Kosher salt. Avoid using table salt which has anti-caking chemicals added to it resulting in odd flavors when cooked. When pickling, the salt acts as a preservative, making it hard for bacteria to live. Salt rounds out the flavor of the vegetables by not only adding saltiness, but also bringing out the natural sweetness of the vegetable.
"Salt is an amazing mineral from fresh or ancient sea beds: nearly all salt is sea salt. Don't brag about sea salt because everyone cooks with sea salt, but we want it to be as pure as possible: don't spend your whole paycheck, but get something that isn't iodized!" -Chef Lara Ritchie
The sugar: Sugar is optional in quick pickling recipes, but it adds a depth of flavor to the recipe. Avoid adding too much sugar as you don't want to create a syrupy brine. Add just enough to give the pickles a touch of sweetness.
The Spices: Regardless of your recipe, cooking spices should not be over a year old! The flavor is held within the oil of the spice, once spices being to dry out, they lose their flavor. Find a source for spices that will allow you to purchase in small amounts so that they remain fresh, especially for spices that don't get used all that often. When storing spices - store them away from heat and light! Chef Lara explained that keeping spices next to the oven actually cooks them, which is costing you money and flavor! A good indicator of spice freshness is their scent, even if you don't know what they're supposed to smell like, you should be able to smell a deep flavor, if you can't, your spices aren't good any longer.
How to quick pickle vegetables
recipe provided by chef Lara Ritchie of Nothing to it Cooking School
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp black or brown mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp. black peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Salt, Sugar, Vinegar:
- 2 cups cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 Tbs. kosher salt
- 5 medium garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled
- 3 slices fresh ginger (about 1/4" thick)
- 1/2 of one small yellow onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1/2 of a head of cauliflower, peeled and sliced 1/2" thick on the diagonal (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 of one red bell pepper, cut into large dice (about 1 cup)
Prepare the brine:
Put the coriander, mustard, and cumin seeds in a small sauce pan. Toast the spices over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until fragrant and slightly darkened, about two minutes.
Add the vinegar, garlic, ginger, onion, sugar, salt, peppercorns, turmeric, red pepper flakes, and 1 cup of water to the toasted spices. Bring to a boil.
Prepare the pickles:
If you have not cut the vegetables yet, do so as the brine comes to a boil. Sterilize jars, and thoroughly dry!
Divide the vegetables into the sterilized glass jars leaving 1/4" head space. You can arrange the vegetables in an attractive manner if you plan on giving these as gifts!
Once the brine is ready, pour the hot liquid over the vegetables. Let cool to room temperature and then cover and refrigerate. The vegetables will be ready after about two days and will last upwards a month, after 14 days the vegetables may start to become a bit mushy.
*Note: the head space isn't completely necessary, but you must make sure the vegetables are completely submerged in the brine!