Pickling Summer Veggies
When pickling vegetables, make sure you use crunchy, fresh veggies such as cauliflower, beetroot, onions, cucumbers, celery, carrots and zucchini. These are all great options for pickling because they will retain some of their crunch once pickled.
Also, because the vegetables will be in the pickling liquid for at least 48 hours [or longer], you don't want to use veggies that easily break down, so go for produce that will stand up to the pickling process. Don't let that stop you from experimenting with other kinds of vegetables though: try using mushrooms, green beans or eggplant for something different.
When making pickled vegetables, you need to be able to store them in glass jars with sealable lids. Foods that are pickled will last for months, or even years in some cases, if prepared and stored correctly. You also need to make sure you are using sterilised jars because even the smallest amount of bacteria can derail your pickling efforts.
When you purchase the jars, sterilise them by first rinsing them in hot soapy water, then boiling them. If you are making a large amount of pickled vegetables, try to use smaller jars because once opened, they will lose freshness.
You should first soak [overnight] or boil [for about two minutes] the vegetables in a water and salt brine, before adding them to the jars. You can also boil the vegetables in vinegar for about 15 minutes. This process will prepare the vegetables for soaking up the flavours of the pickling liquid.
Making the brine
Almost every brine consists of a combination of vinegar and salt or sugar, along with herbs and spices. The most common pickling liquid has a combination of mustard seeds, dill and garlic, but you can add other herbs to suit your taste, such as bay leaves, peppercorns, coriander or celery seeds. You can also add a variety of fresh herbs like basil or rosemary.
Pickled Vegetable Recipe
Makes 4 servings
- 600 grams fresh mixed vegetables
- 1/2 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1/2 tablespoon celery seeds
- A few sprigs of fresh herbs
- 2-1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- Boil a large pot of salted water and add the vegetables to the water. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon and immediately place into a bowl of ice water to preserve the colour and crunch.
- While vegetables are cooling, combine in a pot the mustard seeds, celery seeds, herbs, vinegar, water and sugar in a pot. Bring to a simmer.
- When vegetables are cool, place in sterilised jars and pour the hot spice mixture over the top, leaving about 1.5cm space at the top of each jar.
- Bring another large pot of water to the boil and place jars in the water; add more water so it covers jars by a couple of centermetres. Let the jars simmer for about 20 minutes, adding more water if necessary to keep the jars covered.
- Remove jars carefully with tongs and let them cool. Store in a cool dry place for a few months.
More pickling tips
Watch this video that shows you how easy it is to pickle your own vegetables at home.