Quick pickles (or “Quickles”) take very little time to make and will last in the refrigerator for up to two months. Add them to crudeté platters and use them to garnish any sandwich or savory dish that would benefit from a bit of crunch, salt, and acid. I frequently make small batches for tacos, falafel, Asian-style noodles, or eggplant sandwiches. In the winter—when I have a lot of root vegetables on hand—I tend to make larger batches to avoid food waste and then get creative about how to use them. Last winter, I discovered that quick-pickled kohlrabi is delicious dipped in hummus. Who knew?
Choosing the vegetables. It’s best when you can use fresh vegetables, but almost any sturdy vegetable will work. Good candidates are carrots, turnips, daikon radishes, purple mu radishes, kohlrabi, cucumbers, onions (red or yellow), scallions, cherry tomatoes, and summer squash. In the case of vegetables that you typically eat cooked, such as asparagus and green beans, it’s nice to blanch them first. Beets can be quickled either raw or blanched. When deciding whether to blanch or not, a good rule of thumb might be to ask yourself whether you would ordinarily enjoy this vegetable raw. For example, Chiogga beets are great raw and thinly sliced. It’s OK to mix up vegetables in your jar. If there’s one that you know you want to use up, fill the jar with that one first and then fill in as needed with something else like carrots and onions.
Choosing a vinegar. White vinegar is the most common vinegar to use for pickling. Apple cider is also a good choice. You can use one or a combination of both— white vinegar for bite and apple cider vinegar for sweet. You can also try rice wine vinegar (mellow) or white wine vinegar (sharper). I don’t recommend using balsamic, malted vinegar, or raw & unfiltered vinegar (such as Braggs).
Choosing the spices. The Vinegar Home Kitchen Staples Checklist lists some quickling spices in the “nice additions” section of spices. See what you have in your spice cabinet, and if you need to buy some just to make quickles, choose what sounds good to you. I like the look and taste of seeds in quickles (my favorite are caraway, coriander, and fennel seeds), but ground spices work too. Fresh or dried herbs are also nice.
Makes two 16 oz wide-mouth pint-sized jars
or one 32 oz wide-mouth quart-sized jar
1 lb of peeled vegetables or enough to loosely fill a quart-sized jar
½ cup red onion, sliced (optional)
1 cup water
1 cup mild vinegar (white or apple cider or both)
1 T kosher salt
1 T sugar
1 bay leaf
pinch red chili pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1 tsp coriander seeds (optional)
1 tsp caraway seeds (optional)
1 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
Optional spice additions or substitutions
fresh or dried dill, thyme, oregano, rosemary
fresh ginger or turmeric, peeled and sliced
Wash, peel and cut up the vegetables to suit how you anticipate using them. Try thin medallions for dipping and matchstick for garnishing.
Place the vegetables in a clean, dry jar, filling the jar almost to the top.
Combine the basic brine ingredients in a saucepan. On medium heat, bring to a gentle simmer stirring constantly. Simmer 1-2 minutes until all ingredients are combined.
Place the remaining spices in the jar with the vegetables.
Pour the heated brine over the vegetables and spices, filling the jar. This is best done in the sink. Use a fork to push the vegetables down, so they are all submerged. You might find that you have extra brine because the shapes and textures of your vegetables will vary, especially if you double or triple the recipe.
Place the lid on the jar and allow to cool before refrigerating. They will become more flavorful in a day or so and can be refrigerated for up to two months.