How to Pickle Vegetables (and Fruits!) In 3 Easy Steps
Pretty much any produce can become a pickle. Here's how to make and plate them in delicious and innovative ways.
Pickled fruit and vegetables brighten dishes and amplify their flavors, says chef Jacob Verstegen of LH Rooftop at LondonHouse in Chicago, who pickles everything from onions and sweet potatoes to cherries and blueberries. They also add a slew of health hits: The fermenting process in some pickling gives your food extra probiotics, helpful enzymes, and vitamins. (Read more about why you should add fermented foods to your diet.) You can always go store-bought (we love Rick's Picks Phat Beets and Bad Ass Organics BAO Cultured Vegetables). But if you want to try making your own pickles, here's what you need to know.
1. Make the brine
Begin with a solution of two parts water, two parts white vinegar, and one part sugar, then add herbs and spices like peppercorns, pickling spices, or dill seeds. (For tougher vegetables, boil the brine.) Then add your produce, and refrigerate for anywhere from 30 minutes for thinly sliced veggies to a day for thicker pieces.
2. Play with different fruits and veggies
Sure, you can pickle the classics, like red onions and cucumbers. But you can branch out too. Some of Verstegen's favorites are sweet potatoes, berries, sunchokes, pumpkin, and brussels sprouts. (Yet another option: broccolini pickles.)
3. Pair them with almost anything
Pickled vegetables give your sandwiches, salads, tacos, and bowls some acidic zing. They're also excellent for balancing out rich dishes. (Try this recipe for miso flank steak with sesame vegetables and swiss chard pickles.) Verstegen likes to top fried fish with pickles and mustard.