This week we’re making easy homemade pickles with three of the veggies from the Oahu Fresh Farmer’s Market bag!
While I’ve been fermenting foods for a long time — I’m quite famous among my friends for my homemade hot pink sauerkraut and vegan kim chi — it wasn’t until a few months ago that I started making homemade pickles. I was totally blown away with these delicious pickled veggies, and I trust that you will be, too.
For this week’s recipe, I made pickled carrots, pickled cucumbers, and pickled zucchini – three easy recipes that use the same vinegar brine and unique spices and herbs to make homemade pickles in just a few minutes!
Below I’ve included a basic recipe and some herb/spice suggestions, and I encourage you to experiment and try all kinds of delicious combinations!
How to Make Homemade Pickles
A quick note: this recipe makes ‘refrigerator pickles,’ as they are known in common ferment parlance. These are NOT canning pickles that you can store for months in your pantry. These are not meant to be water-bath canned, nor are they meant to last for years. Make these delicious recipes, and use within a few weeks for best results.
I’ve chosen an affordable, distilled white vinegar from Whole Foods for my recipes. You can use apple cider vinegar, however, it’s more expensive and the cooking process will kill off the beneficial probiotics and enzymes in the ACV, so I’d save the ACV for yummy homemade vinaigrette dressings and marinades.
As a bonus, the distilled vinegar is GREAT to have on hand in my sustainable household: vinegar can be used in an array homemade cleaning products and I use about a cup of vinegar in each load of laundry – it makes clothes softer and helps reduce that musty smell. And no, I don’t smell like pickles!
This loose recipe is infinitely customizable: chop the veggies how you want, combine veggies together, and add herbs and spices (see my suggestions below) to make an array of flavorful options to keep on hand.
As for serving, there are millions of options to using your homemade pickles. There are great as a little snack before dinner, both filling you up with fresh veggies, and allowing the pungent vinegar to stimulate your gastric juices before dinner. I love homemade pickles on veggie burgers, of course, and they are great mixed into my Chickpea of the Sea Salad (aka, Vegan Tuna Salad). The pickled carrots and zucchini are great on hummus platters, chopped into salads (like this Broccoli Couscous, for example). You can also chop them finer and use on sandwiches, wraps, and mixed into dips (like a cashew cheese).
Basic Homemade Pickle Recipe
Jars, as needed (see my sanitizing guide here)
Prepped & chopped veggies of choice
1-2 teaspoons of herbs & spices of choice
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup distilled water or spring water
1 Tablespoon sugar of choice
1 teaspoon of salt (sea salt of Himalayan salt – do not use iodized salt)
- Sanitize jars according to directions in the link above.
- Wash and prepare the veggies: slice into rounds or sticks, cubes or half moons – whatever shape you like!
- Add the herbs into the sterilized jar(s) and then pack in the veggies
- To a saucepan, add vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Bring to a low boil, then remove from heat.
- Pour vinegar mixture into jars until vegetables are submerged.
- Cover, and let cool to room temperature.
- Move to refrigerator, and let rest for at last 24 hours.
- Remove pickles from jar with a clean fork and ENJOY!
That’s it! Once you get the technique down, you can experiment with a huge range of veggies and spices to make an array of flavors.
Herbs & Spices to Use for Homemade Pickles
You’ll see in the video that I used an array of herbs – these are optional (but delicious). You can certainly make simple pickles without any of these additions. Below I’ve shared a few combinations of herbs that I have been loving.
Herbs for Pickled Carrots: I love the combination of star anise (which has a licorice flavor) and coriander (the seeds of the cilantro plant). The coriander can be eaten alongside the pickles and used in final recipes, but the star anise is too hard to eat, and should not be eaten.
Herbs for Pickled Cucumbers: Garlic and dill flavors create a classic combination for cucumbers. You can use fresh or dried dill greens, or use fragrant dill seeds. I find that the vinegar is great at extracting the garlic flavor, so just one clove is enough for me… you can, of course, add more for very garlicky pickles. Chop the garlic roughly and include with other herbs.
Herbs for Pickled Zucchini: To give the zucchini a pungent flavor, I added bitter mustard seeds and more coriander, because coriander is good on everything.
Other herbs to consider: Cinnamon sticks, fennel, black peppercorns, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, fresh onion, curry leaf, chopped fresh ginger and turmeric, caraway, lavender, and so much more!
A final note about the brine: As each of these pickle experiments used a lot of brine, I had to make sure it was okay to reuse the brine so that less goes to waste. One of my favorite ferment-friendly bloggers says to be sure to reuse brine only for these types of quick (fridge) pickles, and only if it still looks clear. She says to use only about three times for best results. You can also use brine in marinades for tempeh, tofu, or veggies, or use them as a based for really flavorful salad dressings. This makes the most of the vinegar and the infused flavor.