Just about anything can be pickled. I have pickled cucumbers, beets, radishes, brussel sprouts, carrots, peppers of all types, apples, green tomatoes, garlic, parsnips, pumpkin, acorn squash, cauliflower, celery, beef, shrimp, and many more things.
The trick to pickling is the brine. There is a basic brine that I always use and then I alter it to fit the thing being pickled. For instance, when pickling squash or fruit a sweeter brine is better, but be careful that it is not too sweet. When pickling vegetables, I choose a saltier brine, but a sweet brine could work here as well. Again just watch your salt and sugar levels. Always taste your brine before you add it to your vegetables or meats.
Some things take longer to brine than others. Some people will tell you to add your items to the brine while it is on the stove, I disagree. Make your brine and let it boil for a bit. Then add your items to your jars, packing them in as tight as you can get them. Pour in the brine, carefully as to not burn yourself and cover the jars with your lids and rings.
If you choose to can your pickled items, you always have that option. I would suggest a bit of crisper in the bottom of each jar if you plan to can them as the canning process will wilt your vegetables very quickly and break down your meats almost as fast.
4 cups white vinegar
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 tablespoon mustard seeds
2 tablespoon coriander seeds
Whisk together ingredients in a stock pot and bring to a boil. Let boil for 3 minutes before pouring over pickling items.
You can use other vinegars as well, I like to use cider vinegar sometimes, especially if I am increasing the sugar content.
For a bread and butter style pickle I use this brine:
4 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup kosher salt
5 cups sugar
2 tablespoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons celery seed
1-1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
To can the pickles, place jars with lids securely on in a large stock pot. Fill the stock pot with water so that it just barely covers the lids. Bring to a boil and boil for at least fifteen minutes. If lids have not sealed, boil for an additional five minutes. If after thirty minutes total the lids are not sealed, they are not going to seal.
Once canned, the pickled items are good in your pantry for six months. After they have been opened, they are good up to seven days. If they do not seal, they are good for three weeks in your fridge, until they have been opened, in which case they are good for seven days form when you open them.
As a note, if the jars seal in your fridge, this does not mean they will be good longer, it is the pressure from the hot to cold building up and sucking in the seal.
Another way to pickle items is to quick pickle them. This is great for crisp peppers or onions or really any vegetable that may break down quickly.
One of my favorite ways to eat these quick pickled vegetables is below:
Pickled Vegetable Salad with Soft Boiled Eggs
The salad is better the longer it sits. It is best to make it at least an hour ahead of time and then soft boil the eggs. A mandolin can be used to slice the vegetables, but you can also just use a sharp knife to slice them thin. Toast the baguette while the eggs are cooking.
4 small red beets, peeled and thinly sliced
4 small white turnips, peeled and thinly sliced
8 medium red radishes, thinly sliced
2 ribs of celery, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
1 fennel bulb, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
2 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Juice of half a lemon
4 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
Freshly cracked black pepper
Water for boiling
Half a baguette, sliced into ¼ inch slices and toasted
In a medium mixing bowl combine vinegars and lemon juice. Slowly whisk in oil and season with salt and pepper.
Arrange vegetables on large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with vinegar and toss to coat. Let sit for at least 15 minutes, but closer to 1 hour.
Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil and gently lower in the eggs. Reduce the heat and simmer for 6 minutes. Pour off the hot water and gently toss the eggs in the pan to crack the shells. Cover the eggs with cold water and let stand for 1 – 2 minutes. Carefully peel the eggs. Reheat the eggs for 2 minutes in 2 inches of simmering water. Pat the eggs dry and slice in half.
Arrange the vegetables on a plate and top with 2 egg halves. Sprinkle with finishing salt if desired and garnish with microgreens tossed in the vinegar mixture.
That may be a little fancy for some, but it give you an idea of the basis behind quick pickles. Thirty minutes is the least amount of time I would give a quick pickle and I wouldn’t let it sit for more than six hours.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, let me know.