This one’s more than just a clever headline (although, yes—it is pretty clever). Also known as refrigerator pickles or vinegar pickles, quick pickles are (as advertised) a quicker method of preserving fresh vegetables and fruits than the weeks-long, brine-based fermentation process used for traditional Eastern European dill pickles or kimchi.
Quick pickling involves little more than immersing your favorite crispy crudités—sticks of carrot, cauliflower florets, quartered radish—in a solution of vinegar, water, and salt, adding sugar, herbs, spices, different varieties of vinegar, and other aromatics to suit your taste.
A couple of things about choosing your vegetables
Crunch. Quick pickling works with most any naturally crunchy vegetable that you would eat raw (or blanched), whether on its own, as a salad component, or as a condiment for cooked food. Apart from the aforementioned carrots, cauliflower, and radishes, other vegetables that work well include cucumbers (sliced or speared), green beans, sliced fennel, onions and shallots (particularly for salads and condiments), and roots like turnips and beets.
How crunchy you like your pickles will determine whether or not you blanch the vegetables first in the vinegar solution and whether or not you boil the solution at all.
Color. While vinegar pickling tends to dull the color of green vegetables, it can illuminate vegetables that are on the red-orange-yellow end of the spectrum. If you’re particular about keeping your pickles uniform in color, you’ll want to store them separately. And if you plan to blanch different vegetables—say, cauliflower and radishes—in the same vinegar solution, you’ll want do the radishes last unless you don’t mind ending up with pink cauliflower.
Basic Brine for Quick Pickles
- Assorted fresh vegetables e.g., asparagus, beets, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, fennel, onions, radishes, shallots, turnips
- 1 1/2 cups vinegar white wine, rice vinegar, distilled
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1-2 tsp Kosher salt
- 2 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 bay leaf
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 2-3 whole cloves
- 1-2 cloves garlic sliced in half
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- Combine ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil until salt and sugar are dissolved.
- Wash, peel, trim, and/or cut vegetables into crudités.
- Blanch vegetables in the brine for 30-60 seconds.
- Remove and allow vegetables and brine to cool to room temperature.
- Pack vegetables in glass containers, cover with brine, and refrigerate to keep for a week to 10 days.