Pickling for Beginners

TJ Willink
July 18, 2016

It’s surprisingly simple and inexpensive to make sour, crunchy pickles at home. Homemade pickles taste better than store-bought, and the process is also a good way to store extra produce you have or to use up produce that is nearing its expiry. All that is needed to pickle vegetables is vinegar, salt, sugar, spices, and some patience.

Follow these five simple steps to prepare your own fresh pickles.

1. Choose the Vegetables

Cucumbers are a popular choice, but almost any vegetable can be pickled. Tomatillos, turnips, mushrooms, and peppers are all good options. If using vegetables with a tougher skin, such as beets, ginger, okra, or carrots, blanch them first before pickling. Even some fruit can be pickled, such as cherries, peaches, and blueberries.

2. Prepare the Vegetables

Cut the ends and stems off the vegetables. Wash them, chop them up, and place them in a heat-safe jar with an airtight lid. Whole vegetables can also be placed in the jar, but the brine will be absorbed faster if the vegetables have been cut.

3. Choose the Flavorings

Flavor the brine with herbs and spices. Dill seed, mustard seed, garlic, clove, and peppercorn are all tasty options. Place these in the jar along with the vegetables. If you want to keep it simple, skip this step and only use the brine.

4. Mix the Pickling Brine

Make a basic pickling brine by mixing together one cup of white vinegar, one cup of water, half a cup of sugar, and one tablespoon of salt. Use salt that has no additives, such as pure sea salt or pickling salt. Bring the ingredients to a boil and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar.

5. Fill the Jars

Pour the brine into the jar, covering the vegetables fully and leaving a half inch of room at the top. Seal the jar immediately and place it in the fridge. Let it sit for at least a day before opening. Pickles can keep for up to a month.

Once you have figured out the basic steps, try different pickling recipes and flavor combinations. Get adventurous; even watermelon can be pickled.

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