If you have never tried homemade pickles before, you are missing out! Pickling is one of the best ways to preserve a prolific veggie harvest and ensure the bounty of your garden can be enjoyed for months to come. In this post, I’ll walk you through the basics of pickling as well as the veggies and fruits (yes, fruit!) that can be preserved and enjoyed. Plus, I’ll share 14 pickle recipes to try. Keep reading to learn why pickling may just be the best thing that has happened to your garden!
Pickles. You either love them or hate them, right? For many people, their only experience with a pickle is the soggy, overly-salted disc that comes slathered in ketchup on a hamburger patty. However, there’s a whole world of incredible, crispy, flavourful pickles out there waiting, made from almost any vegetable imaginable.
As more and more of us are finding the draw to go back to basics in our lives, learning how to make pickles has become more and more popular. Not only is it a fairly easy activity with delicious results, but this is an excellent way to ensure your garden bounty can be enjoyed all year long.
What is Pickling?
First, let’s talk about what pickling is. Pickling is the process of safely preserving food by using either pickle brine or through fermentation. I’ll go into more detail about both methods below, but for now just now that either way will greatly extend the shelf-life of perishable foods.
Pickling isn’t a new thing either. In fact, there’s evidence of people learning how to make pickles as far back as 2030 BC! While some techniques may have been refined over the past 4,000 years, the basic process has stayed the same.
Which Foods Can You Pickle?
We all know that cucumbers can be pickled, of course, but there’s so much more. There’s an entire world out there of flavourful vegetables and fruits that have been preserved. Practically anything that you grow in your garden can be used to either become a pickle or as part of the flavour in the brine itself.
Fruits That Can be Pickled
Let’s start with the fruits. Many people are shocked to know that you can pickle fruit just as easily as a vegetable, but it’s true. Personally, I love the sweet-sour-salty combination that pickled fruit produces. Here are some of the most common fruits you can pickle:
- Watermelon rinds
As you can see, the list is quite extensive, even though it is not exhaustive.
Vegetables You Can Pickle
Likewise, although more people are familiar with pickled vegetables, they often only think of cucumbers. There are so many other colourful veggies that make excellent pickles, such as:
- Brussel sprouts
- Green beans
- Swiss chard
Other Foods You Can Pickle
It’s not just fruits and veggies that can be pickled. You can also pickle protein such as brisket (turning it to corned beef thanks to a salt brine) or even hardboiled eggs.
Pickle Brine vs. Fermentation
As I mentioned above, there are a few methods you can use when learning how to make pickles. While I have some fantastic recipes linked below that will walk you through how to make pickles step by step, I wanted to give you a quick overview of each method.
Pickles with Vinegar Brine – Water Bath Canning
When we think of pickles, we often think of the cucumber in a jar of vinegar-based solution. The proper name for this is vinegar brine. Pickle brine is made of a combination of vinegar, water, and salt. There are often other spices and seasonings added too, such as dill or peppers for example.
Once the food is emersed in pickling vinegar, it must be sealed properly for the food to stay fresh. This is done by the canning method of a water bath, similar to how you would traditionally can jams.
Quick Pickles or Refrigerator Pickles
This is the easiest and fastest way to pickle, thus the name. Using the same vinegar brine method as you would with water bath canning, you will prepare a sweet or salty vinegar brine and cover the veggies or fruit. Then, instead of canning them, they simply get stored in the fridge and eaten up quickly.
Fermentation is another way to preserve vegetables and create pickles. This can be done with almost any veggie successfully. Fermentation preserves food while also increasing the good-for-you bacteria. Well-known fermented foods include kimchi and sauerkraut.
To successfully ferment foods, you need to choose one of three starter methods:
- Whey + salt
- Starter culture
Then, add the food to the starter along with distilled water into a fermentation crock. Make sure the vegetables are weighed down underneath the brine, then place the crock in a cold storage environment.
14 Pickling Recipes to Try
Now that you know a bit of history about pickles and a quick overview of each method, let’s dig into some recipes! Each of these fantastic posts will show you how to make pickles step by step.
The Best Ever Deli-Style Pickles
I have tried a LOT of pickle recipes in my day. When it comes to deli-style pickles, this recipe is my favourite, hands down. These pickles turn out crunchy and perfectly seasoned every time I make them!
Get the recipe for deli-style pickles.
Sweet Pickled Figs
This recipe for pickled figs had my mouth watering. Rather than your typical savory, sour pickle, these pickled figs are more like candy with notes of cardamom, cinnamon, clove, and all-spice. Spoon this over yogurt for a delicious treat!
Get the recipe for these pickled figs at Nitty Gritty Life.
Super Simple Quick Pickled Radishes
If you long for instant gratification in pickling, this recipe is as good as it gets. These delicious pickled radishes can be eaten the very next day! If you have never been a radish fan, I encourage you to give these a try. They just may change your mind.
Get the recipe for quick pickled radishes.
Fermented Pickles with Squash and Cucumber
Have prolific squash in your veggie garden? Give this pickled squash recipe a try. The fermented squash is reminiscent of your classic dill pickle with a little bit more sweetness to it.
Get the recipe for fermented squash pickles at Attainable Sustainable.
Lacto-Fermented Dilly Beans
If you have an excess of green beans in your garden, I encourage you to give this recipe a try. These pickled green beans are fermented in vinegar so you have those awesome probiotics packed into one crispy green bean.
Get the recipe for fermented dilly beans at Grow Forage Cook Ferment.
Golden Beets with Ginger and Star Anaise
The brine in these golden beets is slightly sweet with a bit of spice, which balances out the earthy beet flavour perfectly. These pickled beets make a great alternative to the typical beet and also happens to be one of my favourite salad toppings.
Get the recipe for pickled golden beets.
Easiest Fermented Pickled Vegetables Ever
Here’s another beginner-friendly recipe to try out when you are learning how to make pickles for the first time. With just a few minutes of preparation, you can have veggies in brine fermenting. The best part? You can enjoy eating them just five short days later!
Get the easy fermented pickles recipe at An Oregon Cottage.
Watermelon Rind Pickles
If you haven’t tried watermelon rind pickles before, you are missing out. I love that I can enjoy eating the meat of a watermelon and then use the rinds for pickling, rather than throwing it into my compost pile. Here’s a quick video showing you how to make this tasty treat.
Pickled ginger is a lovely addition to sushi, of course, but it works with so many other meals. This bright and flavorful pickle is excellent chopped in salads, stir-fries, and just eaten as is.
Learn how to make pickled ginger from The Kitchn.
Garlic Honey Fermented Cloves
Garlic is one of the most popular ingredients for a home cook to keep stocked. While garlic and honey fermented together may sound like an odd combination, they truly work in tandem in this fermented recipe.
Grab the two-ingredient recipe for the fermented cloves at Nitty Gritty Life.
Sliced Pickled Jalapenos
Are you one of the lucky gardeners that have pots full of jalapenos ripe for the picking? If so, you’ve got to give these pickled jalapeno slices a try! Add them to nachos, layer them in sandwiches, or just enjoy eating them on their own.
Get the sliced pickled jalapeno recipe at An Oregon Cottage.
Tarragon Pickled Beets
Pickled beets are both flavourful and colourful. This recipe seems to become even more delicious in time, so I recommend making a large batch and then letting them sit at the back of your pantry a bit.
Get the recipe for tarragon pickled beets.
How to Make Pickles with Asparagus
I used to get pickled asparagus at a favorite local restaurant when I ordered a Caesar (a Canadian savory cocktail similar to a Bloody Mary made with Clamato (clam + tomato) juice). The drink was nice but my favourite part of the entire thing was the pickled asparagus. Of course, I haven’t been able to visit the restaurant in several months, but thankfully this recipe lets me make my own at home to enjoy.
Get the details on how to pickle asparagus at The Elliott Homestead.
Spicy Pickled Carrots
I LOVE pickled carrots! I think I may enjoy them more than the classic cucumber pickle. My friend Crystal gave me a jar of these and they were truly delicious. I enjoy these layered on sandwiches and chopped into salads.
Get the recipe for spicy pickled carrots at Hello Creative Family.
How to Make Pickles: Final Thoughts
There are so many incredible ways to experiment and enjoy pickled produce. You’ll be amazed at how pickling will change the flavour of familiar vegetables in the best way. I hope this post gives you the inspiration to give it a try if you haven’t before.
More Recipes About Preserving Food
Looking for more methods and ideas to preserve your garden harvest? Here are some of my favourite posts: