Pickling is a great way to preserve vegetables and fruits, as well as add a punch of flavor. While pickled cucumbers are one of the more popular forms of pickles, you can soak many fruits and vegetables in brine to make delicious and flavorful pickled foods.
Pickles and Pickling
Pickle recipes refer to both a process and the result of that process. In the U.S., pickle is usually understood to mean a cucumber that has been pickled, either in brine or vinegar. Pickles can be sweet, sour, or neither. Flavored with dill weed, the dill variety can add pucker power to a sub or hamburger. Chopped into tiny bits, sweet pickle relish is a favorite flavoring for the all-American hot dog.
Pickled fruits and vegetable recipes provide a great way to enjoy fresh produce and add a spicy, sweet and sour flavor to otherwise mild dishes. There are several different types of pickled fruits and vegetables, including:
- Produce that has been cured in brine for several weeks
- Fruits and vegetables that are fresh packed in boiling brine and spices
- Fruit that is simmered in spiced syrup
- Chopped fruit and vegetable relishes that are cooked to proper consistency
Properly preserved, produce can last for months in storage, but there are several tricks to making suitable pickled fruit and vegetable dishes.
How to Make Pickles
Try your hand at pickling with the following delicious pickle recipes.
Zesty Refrigerator Dill Pickles
This recipe doesn't require canning. Instead, you can keep these pickles in your refrigerator in sealed crocks for up to two months. Because they aren't traditionally canned, these pickles have a very crisp bite.
- 6 to 8 pounds of pickling cucumbers, cut into 4 spears each
- 30 sprigs of fresh dill
- 2 large red onions, sliced
- 10 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 quart water
- 1 quart white wine vinegar
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup pickling salt
- Combine cucumbers, dill, onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl and set aside.
- In a large pot, bring water, vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil. Continue boiling until sugar and salt is dissolved, and then turn off heat.
- Pour hot brine over vegetables and herbs. Cool to room temperature.
- Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving. After 24 hours, pickles are ready. Store sealed in refrigerator for up to two months.
Pickled Watermelon Rind
This Southern favorite isn't difficult to make, although it does require time. It's a great way to use the whole watermelon. Use the flesh for a salad and pickle the rinds.
- Rind from a four pound watermelon, pink flesh and dark green outer rind removed, cut into one inch pieces
- 8 cups water
- 2 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 8 cloves
- 8 black peppercorns
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 teaspoon pickling spice
- 1/4 teaspoon each ginger and allspice
- Combine water and two tablespoons of coarse salt in a large pot. Add watermelon rinds and boil until tender, about five minutes.
- Strain rinds and transfer to a large bowl.
- In a large pot, combine 1/2 tablespoon salt, sugar, apple cider vinegar, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, pickling spice, ginger, and allspice. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves. Remove immediately from heat and pour over watermelon rinds.
- Place a plate over rinds to keep them submerged in brine.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight (or at least eight hours).
- Strain liquid from rinds and bring to a boil again. Pour over rinds, using a plate to keep rinds submerged. Cover and refrigerate overnight again. Repeat this process two more times. Store rinds in brine in the refrigerator, up to two weeks.
While both of the above recipes are for refrigerator pickles, you can also use the canning process to preserve them. Can pickles while the brine is still hot. You can use a canner or the process below.
- Place pickles and hot brine in canning jars. For watermelon rinds, do this after the second reheating of the brine.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. The pot should be large enough you can submerge canning jars with at least one to two inches of water over the top.
- Put pickles and brine completely covering them in jars. Place lids on canning jars.
- Wipe rims of jars with a damp cloth.
- Submerge jars in boiling water, ensuring water rises over the tops of the jars at least one inch.
- Boil for 15 to 20 minutes, until lids seal.
- Remove from water bath with tongs and allow to cool for at least 24 hours.
- Check seals after 24 hours.
Onions Quick Pickle
These quick pickled onions can't be canned, but they make a great salad topping and are delicious on burgers. You can substitute sweet onions if you like.
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 red onion, sliced thinly
- Combine vinegar, sugar, and salt until sugar and salt dissolve.
- Place onion slices in a jar.
- Pour liquid over the top.
- Allow to sit at room temperature for an hour.
- Cover and refrigerate up to two weeks or serve immediately.
- Strain liquid before serving.
Tips for Pickling
Pickling brine consists of vinegar, spices, and sugar in suitable proportions. The combination of the brine with different types of fruits and vegetables may encourage mild fermentation or simply add a pungent flavor to the produce. Cucumbers are universally the most popular item to be pickled, though onions, olives, peppers, watermelon rind, and other fruits are also frequently pickled. To get the most of your pickled fruit and vegetable recipes, consider the following tips:
- Fresh produce should be used for pickling, ideally within a day or two of harvest.
- Wash produce well to remove all dirt that can harbor bacteria and promote unwanted fermentation.
- Do not dilute vinegar in a recipe; adjust the amount of sugar instead if a sweeter flavor is desired.
- Fresh whole spices work best for flavoring without discoloration.
- Use pickling or canning salt rather than table salt to avoid discoloration.
- Seal jars carefully and check seals before storing jars to prevent spoilage.
For a spicy and flavorful treats, consider pickling fruits and vegetables when they are in season and be prepared to reap your own harvest of tasty produce throughout the year.
A pickle is a delicious treat any time. Whether you create traditional dill pickles, branch out with a watermelon or onion version, or even try pickled eggs in pickled beet juice, these recipes are sure to spice up your dishes.