The Dark Art of Quick Pickling

This kid might not think so, but every adult knows that pickles totally rule. And you can make lazy/busy person’s pickles from pretty much anything in your CSA in about 20 minutes, plus 24 hours of fridge time. It’s a great way to help manage produce that is confounding you or has been taking up too much fridge space for way too long.

Will they last into the winter like pickles that are properly canned, and will they taste just like a crispy dill freshly blessed by a Rabbi? No, of course not. That involves fermentation and things I don’t know jack about because I have an arts degree and was raised by Southern Baptists.

But these will last a couple weeks, and you’re gonna love ‘em so much that you’ll eat them up quickly anyways.

What you’ll need:

  • Vegetables: cucumbers, squash, radishes, cauliflower, beans, kohlrabi, peppers, garlic scapes, onions, carrots, beets, cabbage… I mean, what doesn’t taste good soaked in vinegar and sugar and salt? Nothing. That’s what.
  • Vinegar: white, black, cider, wine…whatever vinegar you like, I don’t care.
  • Some water, maybe
  • sweetener, maybe: you can use white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc… Don’t use some gross artificial sweetener thing like Splenda though. I have absolutely no science education but I don’t think that would work. Plus, that’s gross.
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Other spices, maybe: try throwing in something like peppercorns, turmeric, coriander, chili, dill, bay leaf, mustard seed, fennel, cumin, a cinnamon stick, garlic…. I want you to feel enabled and supported to try whatever feels good to you. This is a safe space.

What you’ll do:

  • Slice up your veggies however you want. Wash em and sprinkle em with a little bit of coarse salt and then put them into heat tolerant jars, like mason jars. You can also reuse old glass jars for things like pasta sauce, but clean ‘em real good and be careful about pouring hot liquids into them when they’re cold. You’ll want the brine you make to be able to completely cover your veggies, so keep that in mind.
  • Then make a brine: over medium heat bring water and vinegar to a quick boil with some sugar and salt mixed in along with whatever herbs or spices you like. Typical proportions are 1 to 1 water and vinegar (or maybe more vinegar than water) and “some” sugar and salt, depending on your personal palette.  You’re not making simple syrup or salt water, though, so don’t go crazy. You want to make sure all the sugar and salt dissolves in the liquid. Taste it and adjust if needed.
  • Bring it to a boil and then maybe let it cool just a tad so your jars don’t blow up on ya. Then pour it over your veggies in their jars. Let ‘em sit on the counter and cool for a couple hours, then seal ‘em up and stick ‘em in the fridge. In 24 hours they’ll be well on their way towards awesomehood, and will only get more awesomerer in the next coming days.
  • Chop em up and put em on your ramen/taco/sandwich/salad or eat em straight from the jar while drunkenly swaying in front of the refrigerator in the middle of the night in your underwear. They taste extra special then.
  • ADDED BONUS: You can easily reuse this same brine with the following week’s veggies! This here is a jar of pickle brine which has now held three kohlrabis, half a red cabbage, a couple turnips AND some spring onions and garlic scapes. This jar and a plate of homemade swiss chard stuffed pupusas have already made me the star of several summer potlucks… Just say’n….
jar of fridge pickles