Pickling Primer: How To Get Started!

updated May 12, 2022
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(Image credit: Marisa McClellan)

Pickling involves little more than marinating vegetables over time. How much time depends on the method. And for new picklers, the best way to try it out is through refrigerator pickling. You don’t need a garden’s worth of vegetables or canning equipment – just pick a vegetable (or several), add spices and brine, and into the fridge it goes. Best eaten within a week or two, this method is your answer for quick and fresh pickled fare. 

1. Choose your vegetables

If you usually eat the vegetable raw (think cucumbers and green beans), just slice them up; for vegetables that need a little cooking blanch, steam or roast them first. Don’t stop at cucumbers, either! Try these vegetables and (yes!) fruits:

2. Choose your spices and brine

Here’s where things get interesting. We recommend starting off with basic plain white vinegar and pickling spices. If you happen to have a jar of favorite pickles in the fridge, you can even use the leftover brine to pickle a new batch. Check out the recipes below for additional ideas for spices and brine, from apple cider vinegar to adding a kick with spicy peppers and fresh herbs.

Basic Pickling Brine

For every pound of vegetable:

1 cup vinegar (any kind except balsamic)
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon kosher salt

Extras: fresh herbs, 

red pepper flakes

cumin seed

3. Pack and fill your jars

Don’t worry about finding the perfect jar here – any heat-safe jar with an airtight lid will work. Slice veggies so they easily fit in the jar with a little headspace. Bring brine ingredients to a boil and pour over jarred vegetables. Put the lids on and let jars cool before refrigerating. Allow 24 hours before tasting to give the flavors time to develop. 

Recipes from The Kitchn

This post was requested by bluewindow for Reader Request Week 2013.

(Images: Marisa McClellan)