Homemade quick pickles are easier than you think - and oh so versatile! We have everything you need to know to make your favorite vegetables into snappy brined quick pickles in just 24 hours. In addition to sharing recipes for how to pickle radishes, asparagus, beets, onions, peppers and jalapeños, we're sharing our tricks and tips for quick pickling just about anything.
All you'll need to do is whip up a simple brine and add your veggies and flavorings of choice. We made Scallion Jalapeño Pickles, Turmeric-Ginger Radish Pickles, Herbed Rainbow Pepper Pickles, Asparagus Garlic Pickles and Thyme Shallot Pickles, but the possibilities are endless! We hope these quick pickle recipes inspire you to create your own.
Essentially, a quick pickle is a vegetable (truly any vegetable!) brined in a solution of vinegar, water, salt and sugar.
Note that it's important to store quick pickles in the refrigerator if they are not canned. Quick pickled vegetables will not last nearly as long as properly canned produce, so it's best to make small batches.
If you're following another person's recipe, be sure to take notice of whether or not the process requires canning or if you can follow a quick-pickling process.
Just as there are countless vegetables to pickle, there are also unending options when it comes to vinegar for your brine. You can use your favorite vinegar and experiment with different kinds for different vegetables.
White vinegar is the most basic, all-purpose option for quick pickles. (It's also the most cost-effective, often going for less than $3 for a gallon.)
However, we also love using rice vinegar, apple cider, champagne vinegar or even sweeter varieties like balsamic.
If you're using a more syrupy vinegar (like balsamic), we recommend using a mixture that includes a lighter white or apple cider vinegar to thin it out a bit. And remember, darker vinegar will color your pickles, so if you're concerned about aesthetics, stick to a lighter- or clear-colored brine.
MAKE THE BRINE
Now it's time to make the brine! For simplicity, we stick with a simple brine recipe of equal parts water and vinegar, plus a bit of sugar and salt to cut the acid. You'll need to heat the brine in a saucepan to dissolve the sugar and salt.
Once you have your basic brine, it's time to add various spices, herbs and other flavorings. You can always stick with a simple, spice-free brine, but we like to add a little extra flavor. A little spice goes a long way, and the flavor possibilities are truly endless!
Spices, herbs and other flavorings are the key to a great quick pickled vegetable. You can get as creative as you'd like, or you can stick to the basics. Once you have a basic understanding of flavor combinations, you can come up with your own quick pickle recipes!
Use fresh or dried herbs like thyme, rosemary, dill, oregano, etc. to add flavor to your pickle. Dill pairs perfectly with fresh cucumbers, while thyme complements tomatoes. (Yes, pickled cherry tomatoes are a thing - they're delicious!)
Whole spices like peppercorns, red pepper flakes, dill seed, mustard seed and star anise are excellent additions. You can also use some ground spices like turmeric, which blends well. We added turmeric to the Ginger Turmeric Radish Quick Pickles pictured below.
Fresh ginger and fresh garlic are two of our favorite additions to add an extra punch of flavor. Ginger is an essential addition to these quick pickled radishes!
In addition to traditional ingredients like ginger and garlic, you can also try using various types of fresh, hot peppers to add a fiery kick. Thai chili peppers add a fantastic kick to these Spicy Pickled Dilly Beans. (Note: these are traditionally pickled using a canning process!)
While the brine is heating, prepare your jars with the sliced vegetables of your choice and any flavorings you'd like to add.
For crunchy, tough vegetables like carrots and radishes, you'll want to slice thinly to allow maximum absorbance of the pickling liquid. We like to use a mandoline to ensure even sizing.
There are a ton of fancy options out there for mandolines, but I prefer an easy-to-use Japanese mandoline with stainless steel blades. We've had the same one for 10+ years and I've never had an issue! Just be sure to use the safety hand guard, or invest in a pair of cut-resistant gloves. (A mandoline injury will almost definitely land you in the E.R.!)
Mandolines are one of our favorite kitchen tools. They make salad prep incredibly easy (and even kind of fun!). We always use one when prepping something like this Shaved Carrot Salad or this Asian Cucumber Salad. It's well worth the $30 investment for reduced prep time and evenly-cut vegetables!
If you don't have a mandoline, just be sure to slice your vegetables as evenly as possible so the pickles all taste the same. Tip: a high-quality chef's knife goes a long way!
HOW TO PREP TOUGH VEGETABLES
If you're going to try pickling a tough, starchy vegetable like beets, you'll likely need to pre-roast or boil the vegetable before pickling. I actually like to slice raw beets very thinly for pickling so they still have a bit of crunch, but if you'll be pickling wedges or whole beets, they'll definitely need to be cooked ahead of time.
To prep beets for quick pickling, roast whole (with skin on) at 400 F for about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, then use a paper towel to easily remove the skin. If they are properly cooked, the skin should come right off. You'll know they're fully cooked if you can easily pierce with a fork.
Next, slice the beet into rounds or wedges, then continue the quick pickling process as usual.
Once your vegetables and brine are prepped, the last hands-on step is to fill up your jars of choice.