If you have an overabundance of fresh, seasonal produce that you're looking to utilize, quick-pickling is your godsend. Especially as we start getting down to the wire and you want to preserve summer's bounty to enjoy just a little bit longer. Seriously.
Homemade quick pickles--or quickles as they've been endearingly nicknamed--are an easy, tasty way to add a "something special" touch to salads, sandwiches, charcuterie plates, and more. Take it from me, putting out a jar of your own pickled peaches as a part of a snack spread is a pro move that exudes culinary hipness and sophistication like you wouldn't believe.
Sound good? Great. Let's talk about how to do it. Here are the basics for beginning quick-picklers, starting with a DIY take on the classic pickle.
If you're like me and have let one-too-many cucumbers go bad in the fridge, these basic refrigerator pickles are everything. They're the perfect recipe for a first-time pickler to get a feel for it. They only take about 10 minutes to prepare, require no special equipment, and provide a good example of a basic quick pickling blueprint. The glory of the quick pickle (beyond being ready for eating ASAP) is that it's a simple, approachable pickling process that yields delightful, delicious results, but doesn't require any vacuum-sealed cans or sterilization. That said, quick pickles are not shelf-stable (as pickles made by traditional canning methods are), but they will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month or two.
These quick pickled cukes are ideal on grilled burgers, diced for fresh tartar sauce, served alongside simple sandwiches, or enjoyed as a quick, tangy snack. And unlike store-bought pickles, these scrumptious homemade pickles allow you to control the spices and sodium levels going into your pickling bring. This recipe suggests letting the pickles stand in the fridge for 4 days to fully develop flavor--that said, you can pull pickles out and start enjoying them within 30 minutes of covering them in the brine. Learn how to make them with this quick, step-by-step video tutorial.
Done! Easy--right? The beauty of this recipe is there's so much room for adaptation. If you love sweet pickles, you can increase the sugar. If you want more heat, increase the amount of red pepper or add in some diced jalapeños.
Alright, so here's the best part... the quick pickling does not, and should not ever, stop with cucumbers. It doesn't even stop with vegetables. You can quickle just about any produce item you want to experiment with, all you need is a brine.
And here's the base recipe for basic quick-pickling brine:
1 pound vegetables or fruit of your choice
1 1/2 cups white or cider vinegar
11/2 cups cold water
1/2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons kosher salt
- Slice produce as desired; place in a medium glass bowl. Combine vinegar, water, and sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring vinegar mixture to a boil; remove from heat. Pour vinegar mixture over produce in bowl; let stand and cool to room temperature. Cover and chill at for 2 to 3 hours. Drain and serve or transfer pickles and brine to a container or jar with a tightly fitting lid (divide among multiple containers if need be). Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
These are your all-purpose instructions--your quick pickling blueprint. Now that you have the simple recipes above, you can fulfill all of your wildest quick pickling dreams. Now, this is the most basic of brines--you can customize it by adding in other flavor agents to play off of whatever your pickling. Some common additions include peppercorns, crushed red pepper, fresh herbs, mustard seed, coriander seed, and citrus rind.
So now that you understand how to make the basic archetypal quick pickle, you're all set with your own fundamental brine formula, and you know how to bend this formula to meet your flavor desires, let's look at what exactly you ought to quickle. Here are my top 8 suggestions for the seasonal produce items you should be pickling right now:
For this recipe, all you'll need are strawberries and rosemary + the pickling recipe above. Pickled strawberries provide a welcome pop of brightness to salads.
These vibrantly spiced, tangy-sweet peaches make a fantastic addition to a summer relish or cheese platter, they're also delicious spooned over pound cake or served alongside grilled pork or chicken. Look for peaches that are still a little firm; they will soften some in the warm liquid. If you start with very ripe peaches, they may over-soften by the time they are finished pickling.
The glistening pickled jewels would be incredible as a topper for duck breast, as an accouterment on a charcuterie plate, spooned onto ricotta-topped crostini, or plopped into cocktails.
Use a mixture of baby tomatoes such as Sweet 100, Yellow Pear, or Sun Gold--all are available at farmers' markets this time of year.#5. Okra
Pickled Okra holds a very real appeal to all true okra lovers. These spicy, crunchy pods are prime for snacking. They're also a fun garnish for a bloody Mary or martini.
Honeydew melon + fresh thyme sprigs + our basic pickle brine are all you'll need for a the perfect sweet-and-savory condiment for spooning onto pork, chicken, or turkey burgers.
#7. Green Tomatoes
It's late summer, of course we're going to keep talking about tomatoes. These Vermouth-Pickled Green Tomatoes picture above are one of our top staff favorites.
We used sweet mini bell peppers and jalapeños, but any variety like serranos, Fresno, Thai, or poblano peppers will also work here.
Now that you've mastered the basics, here are 42 pickling recipes for you to practice your new skills with.