100 Techniques

Technique #6: Pickle Vegetables in an Afternoon

Learn to quick-pickle for time-saving preservation.

Published Oct. 26, 2023.

This is Technique #6 from our 100 Techniques Every Home Cook Can Master.

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To make tangy, crisp, flavor-packed pickles without having to turn to special canning equipment, work with bushels of produce, or wait weeks to enjoy the fruits of your labor, look to quick pickling, which provides (nearly) instant pickle gratification.

The Two Basic Types of Pickles

There are two basic types of pickles: vinegar pickles and fermented pickles. Vinegar pickling simply involves the process of “cooking” vegetables using an acidic brine that quickly penetrates the vegetables, transforming them into crunchy-firm, tangy pickles.

Fermented pickles, on the other hand, sit for days or weeks to develop beneficial bacteria that contribute to the pickling process and develop flavor compounds.

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How Are Quick Pickles Different?

Quick pickles are a category of vinegar pickles that are not processed by a canning method for long-term storage; in addition to being faster, this keeps them crunchier. Nearly any vegetable can be quick pickled: Simply cut your vegetables into small or thin pieces (which better facilitates speedy absorption of the brine), pour a hot brine over them, let cool, and then refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.

Canning and Preserving Made Easy

Foolproof Preserving & Canning

Get 110 reliable recipes (with step-by-step photos) across a wide range of categories, from sweet jams and jellies to savory jams and chutneys, pickles, vegetables, fruit in syrup, condiments, and more.

How to Prevent Unsafe Microbes

No matter what kind of pickle you are making, acidity and salt play important roles in preservation, since both of these create inhospitable environments for bad microbes. But, since quick pickles are typically made in small batches and intended to be enjoyed within a short time frame, you don’t have to worry about long-term food safety in quite the same way you do with fermented or canned pickles.

The Best Canning Pot

Roots and Branches Stainless Steel Multi-Use Canner

A canning pot is an essential tool for large-batch home canning. These pots are typically around 20 quarts—almost twice the size of standard 12-quart stockpots. They should be broad and deep enough to hold a rack (to elevate the jars from the pan floor), a range of jars, and enough water to cover the jars by at least 1 inch.
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Step by Step: How to Quick Pickle Vegetables

Here are the key steps to turn most vegetables into same-day pickles.

Step 1: Prepare Vegetables

Prepare vegetables to be pickled; smaller or thinner pieces will pickle more quickly.

Step 2: Prepare Brine

Combine brine ingredients in saucepan and bring to boil.

Step 3: Prepare Jar(s)

Prepare storage jar for hot brine by running under hot water (this will prevent cracking).

Step 4: Add Brine

Pack vegetables into jar and pour hot brine over to cover vegetables.

Step 5: Cool Before Serving

Let cool, then cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.

Recipes That Use This Technique

Test your newfound "quickling" knowledge with any of these recipes.


Quick Pickled Carrots

These quick-pickled carrot sticks are a cinch to put together and are ready to enjoy in just 3 hours.
Get the Recipe

Quick Pickled Red Onions

These easy pickled onions make a vibrant topping.
Get the Recipe

Quick Pickled Chard Stems

Don't throw away your Swiss Chard stems, pickle them instead.
Get the Recipe

Quick Sweet Pickled Rhubarb

Once you try them, you’ll be putting these rhubarb pickles on everything.
Get the Recipe

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