Quarantine has changed the way we cook. Fewer stops to the grocery store means stretching your produce as far as it can go. If there was ever a time to get on board the low-waste train, now would be it. But reframing your cooking habits doesn’t have to mean skimping on flavor. Enter quick pickling, one of the easiest methods to add instant flavor to any dish while salvaging any vegetables on their way out.
Related Reading: What Is the Difference Between Pickling and Fermenting?
Quick pickling is done by adding vegetables to a brine and storing them in the refrigerator. Since there’s no fermentation, there’s no canning required. Quick pickles can be made with just about any produce you have around, making them the ideal quarantine cooking project. Red onions, shallots, carrots, cucumbers, and radishes are some of the more common iterations, but you can also quick pickle cherry tomatoes, fennel, Swiss chard stems, and even berries. Quick pickles can be served on everything from breakfast and grain bowls to tacos and braised meats.
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Experimenting with Quick Pickling
Not only can you get creative with the produce you quick pickle, but you can also experiment with what ingredients you use for the brine. The recipe below serves as a base, but you can easily swap in apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, or even Champagne vinegar, depending on what you have on hand.
Sugar and salt must always be included, but you can alter the proportions depending on how sweet or salty you want your pickles. When it comes to flavoring your brine, look into the depths of your pantry for inspiration. Hardy herbs like oregano, thyme, and rosemary can easily be added, along with coriander seeds, pink peppercorns, jalapeños, star anise, and even a cinnamon stick.
Quick Pickles Recipe
- ½ cup distilled white vinegar
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
- 1 bay leaf
- Vegetable of choice, sliced
- Add the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaf, to a small pot. Set over high heat and bring to a boil, whisking until the sugar and salt dissolves.
- Add your vegetable of choice to the pot and remove from the heat. Cool at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Transfer quick pickles to a sealed container and store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Header image by Alexis deBoschnek.