by Erin Marissa Russell
Want to try pickling the fruit and vegetables you’ve grown in the garden this season? When plants are producing at maximum capacity, many gardeners turn to pickling as a way to store vegetables and even fruits for use in the kitchen year-round.
Don’t let traditional ideas about what “should” be pickled hold you back. This handy technique is suited for far more than making dill pickles and hot pickled okra. The recipes below will show you traditional and creative methods for pickling all kinds of garden-fresh produce.
Once you’ve got the recipe down and know the procedure, you can customize your pickling project to suit the fruit and veggies you’ve grown in your garden and the flavors your family craves. First we’ll cover the basics, then we’ll show you some unique pickling recipes that will help you make the most of your garden’s harvest.
Here’s the Traditional Method for Pickling Just About Anything You Grow
The basics of pickling are a one-size-fits-all template. Once you’ve mastered the recipe and the steps to follow, you can apply them to preserve any of the fruit or vegetables you’ve grown using the pickling process.
The traditional method explained here does require a hot water bath, so if you’re looking for the fastest technique, skip to the next section on quick pickling. However, be advised that taking just 10 or 15 minutes to heat up your jars when you’re canning them makes pickles that stay crisp and delicious for up to a year. Compare that to the two months quick pickles can be stored in the fridge, and investing the prep time now makes a lot of sense.
For traditional pickling, gather the following supplies.
- A pot made just for canning with a fitted rack—or a large stock pot
- Something to separate the cans from the bottom of the pot, like a cooling rack or aluminum foil
- Quart-sized or pint-sized jars, complete with their lids
- The fruit or vegetables you want to pickle, chopped as desired—about three pounds per batch
- Two cups water
- Two cups white vinegar
- Two tablespoons pickling salt
- A safe surface to place hot jars after the hot water bath, such as a kitchen counter protected with a folded kitchen towel or a wooden cutting board (not directly on stone or marble)
- Jar lifter for canning or another tool for removing hot jars from the pot, such as tongs
- Thin spatula, ruler, or butter knife to release air bubbles from jars
- Rings or vacuum lids
- (Optional) Peeled garlic cloves—one per jar
- (Optional) Dill—Three to four fresh sprigs or one teaspoon of seeds
- (Optional) Whole seasonings, such as allspice berries, black peppercorns, cloves, caraway, coriander, cumin, dried chiles, fresh peppers, ginger, marjoram, mustard seeds, oregano, rosemary, smoked paprika, thyme, or turmeric—u
Then follow the steps outlined in this pickling how-to by Epicurious.
Speed Things Up with Quick Pickled Fruit and Vegetables
Quick pickles don’t last nearly as long in the fridge as the traditional pickles we explained above. However, if your family loves pickles, you may find they’re getting eaten so quickly that long-term storage isn’t part of the equation. Also, quick pickles tend to be crisper than those that were boiled during preparation, and some people prefer the firmer texture.
The preparation here will net you two wide-mouthed pint jars of pickles. First, make sure you have all the supplies you’ll need.
- About one pound of fruit or vegetables for pickling
- One cup of vinegar
- One cup of water
- Two teaspoons pickling salt or one tablespoon kosher salt
- (Optional) Whole, smashed, or sliced peeled garlic cloves—about two per batch
- (Optional) Dill—Three to four fresh sprigs or one teaspoon of seeds
- (Optional) Whole spices and other fresh flavorings, such as allspice berries, black peppercorns, cloves, caraway, coriander, cumin, dried chiles, fresh peppers, ginger, marjoram, mustard seeds, oregano, rosemary, smoked paprika, thyme, or turmeric—One and a half teaspoons of whole spices per pint jar or one tablespoon per quart jar
- (Optional) Granulated sugar—one teaspoon
Wash the jars and their lids in hot, soapy water, then allow them to dry. Use equal parts vinegar and water to create the base for your brine. Next, wash and dry your produce, then chop is as desired for pickling. Add your seasonings to the jars, then add the fruit or vegetables. Leave at least half an inch between the top of your produce and the rim of the jars.
Heat the vinegar, water, salt, and optional sugar for the brine to boiling. Pour the hot brine into the jars, leaving the half inch of space empty. Tap the jars against the work surface to dislodge any air bubbles. Secure the lids tightly onto the jars.
Allow the pickles to come to room temperature, then store in the refrigerator. For best results, give them at least 48 hours before cracking open a jar. Quick pickles will last for up to two months in the refrigerator.
Expand Your Horizons With These Imaginative Pickling Recipes for Cucumbers
There’s more to pickled cucumbers than dill and garlic. The recipes below should expand your horizons in the kitchen and give you plenty of ways to pickle the cucumbers you grow. In addition to being a pantry staple, pickled cucumbers (or any type of pickle, really) will make a great gift no matter the season.
Lock in the Flavor of Homegrown Root Vegetables with Pickling
Most of us have encountered a jar of pickled pearl onions as part of a cocktail spread or cloves cloves of peeled pickled garlic at the supermarket deli. However, these standbys aren’t the end of the line when it comes to pickled root vegetables. The recipes listed here will show you how to pickle just about any root veggie your garden produces.
Give Homegrown Brassicas Some Bite with These Pickling Recipes
Brassica vegetables have a depth of flavor that lends itself to vibrant seasonings, and their sturdy texture makes them a natural for pickling preparations. Brassicas from your garden may include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, or Romanesco. From familiar flavor profiles like sauerkraut for pickled cabbage to new ones such as pickled Brussels sprouts or kohlrabi, pickled brassicas are sure to please the palate.
Make the Most of Garden Beans and Peas with These Pickle Recipes
Beans and peas are a natural choice when you’re looking for produce to pickle due to their crisp texture and handy snackable shape. Dilly beans (dill-flavored green beans) are the best known in this category, but as you can see, there are plenty of pickled beans and peas to choose from.
Don’t Forget the Nightshades When You’re Pickling Veggies from the Garden
The nightshade family includes the garden favorites of potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, okra, and eggplant. Nightshades can become a favorite when it comes to pickling as well. Though they’re not the first pickles that spring to mind, these veggies can round out a summer dinner with the best of them.
Balance Sour with Sweet When You Pickle Homegrown Fruit
Fruit is probably the farthest thing from your mind when you’re dreaming of making homemade pickles from the garden. There’s really no reason to limit yourself to pickling veggies, though. Pickled fruit is a part of cuisines the world over, from Japan’s ubiquitous pickled plums to the pickled watermelon rind and peaches enjoyed in the American South. The combination of sour and sweet is a surefire winner, so take a look at the recipes below to make pickled fruit part of your canning routine.
Savor Your Homegrown Fruit and Veggies with More Pickling Recipes
There are so many great recipes for pickling out there that lots of them just didn’t fit into any of the categories so far. From veggies that fell outside of the previous lists to combinations that mix and match produce from different parts of the garden, these final recipes should round out your pickling repertoire.
Pickling the produce you preserve adds variety to a cupboard full of other garden treats, both fresh fruit and veggies and those prepped for long-term storage. Use your jars of pickles in combination with homemade condiments like salsa and other sauces, jams, jellies, and homegrown canned fruit and vegetables. Giving your harvest the pickle treatment is quick and easy, and the tasty relishes and homemade treats you’ll create will jazz up snacks and meals for months to come.
If you didn’t see the pickles you’ve been dreaming of listed, never fear. You can use the basic pickling techniques we covered (both the traditional canning method and the simpler quick pickling method) to prepare pickles from any kind of produce you can imagine. What are some of your favorite pickle recipes or seasoning blends? Let us know in the comments.