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When it comes to fresh summer treats nice cold pickles are always a hit. From the perfect addition to your favorite burger to snacking right out of the jar – the uses for pickles are endless.
One thing people have a habit of overlooking is the fact that you can pickle more than just cucumbers. Pickling vegetables has been a classic form of food preservation for generations and you can pickle nearly any summer vegetable.
My neighbor just gave us a couple jars of pickled zucchini and pickled okra. They were both delicious!
Related: 16 of the Best Zucchini Recipes
Every year my sister in law serves us pickled asparagus and green beans that is a spicy pickled concoction that one of her good friends’ makes.
Pickling is a great way to preserve your vegetables when you find a good sale or have a large bumper crop in your garden.
Some of the best veggies to pickle include classic cucumbers, asparagus, green beans, beets, carrots, peppers, onions, garlic and okra. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try something new you never thought of before.
The best pickling cucumbers to use are gherkins and the Boston pickling cuke, Those two are the most popular ones to use in my area and I’ve always been happy with my pickles using either of those varieties of cucumbers.
These cucumbers don’t grow super big, but stay a nice compact size, perfect for pickles! Another benefit of using them is the seeds tend to be smaller than some other varieties.
If you have pickling cukes in your area that aren’t gherkin or Boston pickling cukes, still give them a try. You might find they are the best pickles you’ve ever had.
Make sure to start with the freshest vegetables you can find so you end up with crisp and crunchy pickled vegetables.
A lot of times you can order cucumbers specifically for pickling. I am on a list at a local small store and they call me every year to see if I want to order some 25# bags of cucumbers for pickling.
Basic Pickling Vegetables (Refrigerator Version)
So now you might be wondering how to make pickle brine. When it comes to pickling vegetables you will find that they all take the same basic process. Once you master pickling you can really mix things up and try new combinations. For basic pickling, you will need (for one jar):
- Vegetables of choice
- Herbs and spices. Ball pickling spice is a great starter.
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
- Wide mouth jar
Choose your fresh and crisp vegetables. Wash well and slice them how you would like.
Place spices at the bottom of your pickle jars.
Fill the jars with your vegetables, packing tight but make sure to leave a minimum of 1/2 inch headspace at the top.
Bring your water, vinegar, and salt to a boil in a large pot. If you are doing multiple jars feel free to multiply the recipe to fit your needs. This makes your simple and easy pickle brine.
Fill each jar with brine until just covering your vegetables.
Tap the jars lightly on a hard surface to allow bubbles to float up and be released to prevent unwanted microbial growth.
Place on lids.
These will be nice crisp, crunchy pickled vegetables. You can place these jars in the refrigerator for a few days and they will be ready to eat. These will last a few weeks refrigerated.
Tips for pickling vegetables
Don’t shy away from picking vegetables together. Garlic, onions, and peppers make a great flavoring for pickled green beans.
Experiment with herbs and spices your family likes. You may find a new family favorite.
Pickles can be sliced, speared, and diced to fit your preferences. Cucumbers work in all forms but make sure to remove the blossom end that can introduce enzymes into your pickle brine that will make them spoil faster.
For the best color take the time to blanch vegetables like green beans and tomatoes that are known for losing their color during long-term preservation and storage.
I have and love this book. It has all sorts of recipes for different pickled vegetables (plus jams, condiments and more), as well as great how-to’s.