Once you start eating and cooking with the seasons, one problem quickly rises to the top of your list: how to make the most of the fresh produce that you have in your kitchen each week. The short answer: fall in love with picking and don’t look back! Whether you’re looking to use up extra veggies, give new life to an ingredient that you’re bored with, or just round out a meal with a tangy accent, pickles are for you! Here’s what you need to know about pickling Imperfect produce at home:
You can pickle so much more than just cucumbers
When you think of pickles, you think of cucumbers. We get it. We’re here to encourage you to move beyond pickles as a noun and embrace pickling as a verb. Pickling is an easy way to transform any fruit or vegetable into a refreshingly tangy version of itself.
Pickling doesn’t have to be time or labor intensive!
While pickling as a preservation method (awesome in its own right) involves a lot of steps, boiling water, and painfully hip mason jars, pickling as a cooking technique couldn’t be quicker or more straightforward. When we talk about pickling, we’re talking about quick pickling, where thinly sliced veggies (or fruits!) are packed into a container and then covered in hot, flavorful brine, which both lightly cooks and seasons them. So if you have time to heat up water for tea, you have time to make pickles.
Making a pickle brine is quick and easy!
Here’s a pickle brine cheat sheet: For a pound or so of Imperfect veggies combine 1 cup of water, ½ cup of white vinegar, plus a few teaspoons of salt and and a few tablespoons of sugar. The exact amounts of salt and sugar are totally up to your taste preferences.
Whole spices to try (start with a tsp of each): Black peppercorns, coriander, mustard seed, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, juniper berries, cloves (sparingly), allspice berries (sparingly)
Herbs to try: Fresh dill, thyme, oregano
Other kinds of vinegar you can use: Rice wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar. NOTE: We do not recommend using balsamic vinegar for pickling as its flavor is too intense and will overpower your pickles.
To make pickles: Heat up your brine, pour over your produce until it’s covered, and let it cool before placing in the fridge. Want more specific amounts or just need inspiration? Chef David Chang’s basic pickle brine recipe has saved us from pickle writer’s block so many times.
Pickling gets you out of so many kitchen dilemmas!
Let’s say you’re stuck with way too many chiles. Unless you run a nacho stand it can be hard to get through the whole bag of jalapeños that your greedy “past self” added to your box during customization. Just make some taqueria-style pickled jalapeños and you’re fine. What if you’ve run out of ways to prepare a once-beloved veggie like cauliflower? Try making pickles with some new and exotic spices like turmeric and ginger and you’ll learn to love cauliflower again. Pickling is also a good way to explore the delicious possibilities of crunchy but less familiar produce like daikon, jicama, and Asian pears.
Pickles make your produce last and give it new life!
This pretty much says it all. Your quick pickles will be ready to be eaten on as soon as they’re cool and can be kept in the fridge for weeks. Once you have pickles around you’ll find yourself snacking on them often, putting them in your children’s school lunches, and using them as the winner sandwich and taco topping that they truly are. We hope you have fun pickling!