How to Pickle Vegetables at Home

two hands pickling vegetables in glass jars

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Pickling your own vegetables is so easy that, once you learn how to do it, you'll wonder how you haven't been making them all your life. Many erroneously believe that pickle brining is far harder than it actually is, because they associate it with the canning process which, honestly, can be a lot to handle. There is no need for special equipment or mason jars to actually make the pickles; you only need to worry about that stuff if you're intending to preserve them. All you need is a container, some vegetables, vinegar, salt, sugar and, if you want, some spices. Seriously, that's it.

Choose Your Veggies

First, you need to pick your vegetables, and really, there's pretty much no limit to your choices. Cucumbers? Of course. Beets? A classic. Peppers? A peck. Cauliflower? Most definitely. Corn? Why not? Brussels sprouts, onions, radishes, carrots...almost everything is game. Once you've picked your vegetables, give them a good wash, trim them up, and then decide how you'd like to cut them. Cutting helps the pickle brine penetrate, so if you'd like a quick relish you could mince them up, or you could leave them whole if you're willing to give your pickles a bit more time to mature. Once cut, put your vegetables into a clean glass jar, or a resealable, airtight container.

Choose Your Vinegar

Next, pick your vinegar which, again, is your choice. It's best to stick to a clean, basic vinegar, like white, wine, rice or apple cider.

Heavier, more concentrated vinegars, like balsamic and sherry, are not great for pickling, so if you'd like to integrate their flavors into your pickled vegetables, mix a small amount of it in with your chosen basic vinegar.

Determine how much liquid you'll need to cover the vegetables, and then, in a liquid measuring cup make a 1:1 solution of vinegar to water.

Choose Your Spices

Now, consider spices and flavorings. Pre-blended pickling splices are not essential, but they will give your vegetables that familiar pickle taste. If traditional pickles aren't what you want, then experiment as desired! You can use sprigs of fresh herbs, smashed cloves of garlic, toasted cumin seeds, crushed Sichuan peppercorns...again, limitless.

Go easy with your hand to start, because you can always add more spice, but you can't take away.

Figure around one teaspoon of spice for every cup of liquid. Then add 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt per cup, and maybe a little bit of sugar, if you're into it.

Boil Your Brine

Once you've got everything for your brine mixed together, you can bring it to a boil however you'd like; I, personally, like using my microwave for this, but there's nothing wrong with the stovetop. Once it boils, give it a good stir to make sure all the salt is dissolved, then pour it over the vegetables and allow to cool to room temperature before sealing and refrigerating.

If you've minced your vegetables or sliced them paper thin, you could have pickles in less than an hour. If any bigger, let them hang out at least overnight, but try to make it to the 48 hour mark if you can help yourself because they do get better with age. They'll last in the fridge for about two months, but honestly, do you really think one jar is going to last you two months? It's a good thing you know how to make your own pickles now, so you can keep on replacing them.

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