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Home made pickles (moved from General Chowhounding Topics board)

And by pickle, I do not mean (just) dill pickles. What do you pickle and how?

Certain vegetables I pickle by fermenting. Put them in a brine solution and leave them to ferment and acidify. Cabbage would be the prime ingredient. Carrots and daikons another.

Some people put hot peppers in a vinegar solution. I particularly like julienned carrots and radishes this way. I add sugar in some form, toss in a bouquet garni of whatever's handy and add a few dollops of some fish sauce.

I make ceviche, but I have never really pickled any fish for long(ish) term storage. Have you?

What's your take? I suspect those of Eastern European and East Asian heritage do a lot more of this.

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  1. Hot peppers - just cider vinegar brine
    Green beans - dried red pepper, garlic, fresh dill
    Bread and butter cukes - thick slices, lots of onion, hot pepper
    Green onions - I think these need to be refrigerator pickles because they had a weird texture that was unappetizing after hot water bath.
    Trying the fermented cabbage right now, but I've also pickled in vinegar.

    1. This year I did a couple of different ones --

      Garden Pickles (plus a spicy version): Zucchini, green beans, sweet red bell peppers, carrots, cippolini onions, cider vinegar, brown sugar, sugar, dry mustard, mustard seeds, hot red pepper flakes, salt, cinnamon, ginger

      Pickled Grape Tomatoes: Grape tomatoes, white wine vinegar, white vinegar, water, garlic, rosemary, salt

      Assorted Hot Peppers (this was a "refrigerator pickle"): assorted hot peppers red/yellow/green, cider vinegar, sugar, salt

      Bruschetta Topping (I guess this really isn't a "pickle"): Tomatoes, garlic, basil, white wine, white wine vinegar, white vinegar, water, sugar, balsamic vinegar, oregano

      Next year I want to do regular pickles and also spicy green beans.

      5 Replies
      1. re: LNG212

        I think I pickled my grape tomates, as my recipe sounds familiar to yours. I also used olive oil in them. But was I supposed to give them a hot water bath? I just put them lid on and put them in the fridge. I don't want to kill any one and am curious if they are still any good.

        1. re: JEN10

          I've never used oil in canning (didn't know you could, actually, because of botulism and all that). But if you put them straight into the frig, then they sound more like "refrigerator pickles" and I think they'd be fine. Maybe someone more knowledgeable will chime in here.

          1. re: LNG212

            I can "Italian peppers" in olive oil. I was raised in a small city in NE PA and all the Italians there can their own version of these "Italian peppers". It's basicly rings of banana peppers, garlic, olive oil, dash of vinegar and oregano. They are also referred to as "bread peppers" and are served at home and in the local Italian restaurants with bread or on hoagies, pizza, sandwiches, etc.

            1. re: lynnlato

              Could you post your recipe Lynn? And do you pressure can or water bath the recipe? I miss this stuff since I moved away from Central PA and Upstate NY!

          2. re: JEN10

            I have used this recipe for green tomato refrigerator pickles for several years. It involves olive oil. I don't sterilize the jars, because I am lazy and reckless (I do wash them well, though). I'm still alive, as are the people who've eaten the pickles.


            I am open to the possibility that I'm just lucky, so maybe you should boil your jars.

        2. I have made Japanese style quick pickles with carrot, cucumber and daikon (mostly separately but sometimes in combination) sprinkle with salt, let sit, drain, add 2t soy sauce, 2t rice vinegar, 1/4t sugar, a pinch of red pepper is optional.

          This is from "World of the East Vegetarian Cooking" by Jaffrey; I'd be interested in hearing about other Japanese methods.

          I also often make pickled cucumber: seed and chop cucumber into 3/4 inch pieces, mix with 1t sugar/2t mustard/2 cloves chopped garlic/~cup olive oil/1t red wine vinegar/pinch of salt and pepper. I often add garlic and onions.

          I think pickles are a great additional side for most every meal.

          6 Replies
          1. re: steinpilz

            This past year: ginger in oil/spices; baby mangoes in salt; okra with hot peppers in vinegar (good stuff), watermelon rind (county fair blue ribbon), lemons, garlic in soy/vinegar, turnips, kimchi, umeboshi. Saving up right now to get one of those German crocks with the moat around the top edge -- said to be excellent for sauerkraut & sauerruben (sp.?).

            Can you tell that we like pickles?

            If anyone has had any luck making takuan (daikon pickle) in rice bran, please let me know. I tried three times & was extremely fussy about it & every time it molded.

            1. re: mshenna

              I had no idea what you meant about the moat. But sure enough, you are right. Here is a link to someone selling them...


              I should give your watermelon rind a go. It would never have crossed my mind.

              1. re: Paulustrious

                That's the one -- the Harsch crock (couldn't remember the name when I posted, thank you!). The people who gave a workshop last summer on lacto-fermentation recommended it & had one there for the audience to inspect & samples of what it produced. Wonderful.

                The watermelon rind recipe I use is an old one from the first Sunset Favorite Recipes compilation, which goes in & out of print like a dog at a screen door. It calls for a preliminary soak in a pickling lime solution, which strengthens the cell structure or something -- anyhow, even after considerable cooking in syrup, the rind pieces stay quite crisp. It also calls for inserting a clove in each piece of pickle before putting them in the jars -- I do it, b/c it looks & tastes great, but be warned, you too will be covered in sticky syrup by the end; if your kitchen, like mine, is not air-conditioned, there will be a moment when you swear never never ever to make the stuff again. (Then a few days later you crack open a jar & all resolutions are forgotten.)

              2. re: mshenna

                I'm also curious about whether or not anyone on here has had success with rice bran pickles. I'm planning to start the process tomorrow using the recipe from the Shizuo Tsuji book. I'll let you know how it goes.

                1. re: Condimentality

                  By rice bran pickles are you talking about nukazuke?

                  I finally found a good container and purchased rice bran and am awaiting a chance to begin.

                  If there are 'hounds doing this, perhaps we could have an on going thread to compare notes!

                  1. re: meatn3

                    I was talking about nukamiso-zuke. So more of a rice bran mash, I guess. I would be interested in hearing about everyone's experiences with either kind, though.

            2. I'm lazy so I rarely follow-through with making enough pickles to can.

              I do often make pickled vegetable compotes that're designed to go with whatever dish I'm preparing.

              Pickled watermelon rind is a thing of beauty. So is the sweet/sour daikon/carrot pickle that some Cantonese restaurants put out on the table (Taiwanese, too).

              In the Chinese restaurant, we keep two huge jars of seasoned brine/vinegar mixture going. Into them we toss peeled broccoli stems, bok choy hunks, carrot trimmings and celery. There's one for using, and one for marinating. We switch off week to week. These pickle tidbids are typically eaten on the side, with rice and whatever's for dinner.

              When it's time to put out the antipasto, I make my own giardinara with cauliflower, peppers (hot and red bell), celery, onion, radishes, carrots and fennel.

              1 Reply
              1. re: shaogo

                I love this local sichuan restaurant - they put out this lil bowl of pickled/hot veggies. Is that the same as the one you mention shaogo? These are crisp, and zippy and looks like celery, broccoli stems, carrot, etc. Would you have a recipe for this?

              2. Spicy pickled onions. Pickled beetroot. Picalilli. All are yum.

                4 Replies
                1. re: greedygirl

                  Pickled onions (UK style, Hayward etc) are hard to find in the parts of North America I've visited. Or if they are available they are expensive. You can get the small sweet silver-skin onions, but that's not what I want.

                  1. re: Paulustrious

                    They're really easy to make. You just need small onions, some malt vinegar, sugar and I use cloves, chillies and mace as the pickling spices. And I salt them overnight to draw out the moisture. They're really good - let me know if you want the recipe.

                  2. I've been toying with the idea of making brussel sprout kimchee...I'm just wondering if it will be more work than it's worth.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: soypower

                      You can use just about any vegetable mix in a Kimchee. Apart from the tradition Chinese cabbage and radish (baechu), Turnips, horse radish, carrots and green onions go well. You can also add fruit if you wish.

                      1. re: soypower

                        Another idea, which a co-worker was telling me about, is kimchee made from broccoli stems. She said it was the best she has ever had.

                        1. re: meatn3

                          Beulokolli Mulkimchi - Broccoli Water Kimchi

                          브로콜리물김치 A fusion type of water kimchi featuring broccoli.


                          1 1/2 pound broccoli florets
                          4 ounces Korean radish (daikon)
                          3 tablespoons sea salt
                          2 tablespoons sugar
                          4 cloves garlic
                          3 large green onions
                          4 red chili peppers

                          3 tablespoons sea salt
                          2 tablespoons sugar
                          10 cups water -- (about 2 quarts)

                          Asian pears



                          Mix all ingredients in a 1 gallon jar, cover, and let stand at least 6 hours.

                          Broccoli and Radish:
                          Wash broccoli in cold water.
                          Cut radish into roughly 2 inch by 3/4 inch by 1/8 inch strips.
                          Place broccoli and radish strips in a large bowl, add salt and sugar, and toss well.
                          Let stand four to six hours, tossing occaisionaly.

                          Cut green onions into 2 inch long sections.
                          Thin slice the garlic cloves from top to bottom.
                          Cut the peppers in half from top to bottom, remove and discard stem and seeds, then cut each half into thin strips from top to bottom.
                          Add green onion, garlic, and peppers to the broccoli/radish and toss.
                          Place the mixed vegetables into a one gallon glass jar, pour the brine over them, and shake gently.
                          Let stand on a counter for 12 to 24 hours, then refrigerate.
                          Serve in small bowls with plenty of the broth as part of a ban chan array.

                          1. re: hannaone

                            Thank you. I'm going to make some and surprise my co-worker!

                            In using the optional carrot or Asian pear, do you decrease the other vegetables or just add a small amount as an accent or increase the brine? The idea of the pear really appeals to me. I had some pickled pear at Momofuku a few years ago and it was the stuff of dreams...

                            1. re: meatn3

                              If you add the carrot and pear -
                              decrease the broccoli to about 1 pound or slightly more.
                              use one medium carrot, trimmed, and sliced on a bias. Add to the broccoli/radish mix, season and toss.
                              For the pear - About 25 minutes before placing the vegetables into the jar:
                              Use one small Asian pear (about 3 or 4 ounces), peel and core, then cut in half from top to bottom. Slice each half into roughly 1/4 inch thick slices and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Let stand about about 20 minutes, then add to mixed vegetable and toss.

                              1. re: hannaone


                                I appreciate the tips! This sounds delicious.

                                1. re: meatn3


                                  Report back if you try this.

                                  1. re: hannaone

                                    I picked up some nice broccoli on sale today, so I'm hoping to have energy to make this very soon.

                                    I just noticed the chili pepper is fresh - any particular type that you recommend?

                                    Edit: How long does this keep? I'm planning on adding the pear.

                                    1. re: meatn3

                                      Depends on your personal heat level.
                                      We use chili peppers grown locally that are similar in heat to jalapeno (the hot one, not the mild variety that has been showing up)
                                      Any type of hot chili pepper would work.

                                      This is a new type of kimchi for us, so I'm not sure how long it will keep. The batch we made didn't last long enough to find out.

                                      1. re: hannaone


                                        Thanks for all the tips and recipe.

                                        I made this with the Asian pear variation. I used 2/3 florets and 1/3 stems for the broccoli. I used jalapeno, seeded as a starting point for heat.

                                        I tasted it just before it went into the fridge - nice flavor, crispy. The next day I learned of a death in the family and had to leave town. So the kimchi didn't get revisited for several weeks.

                                        The vegetables remain crisp and the color is good, although the pear looks somewhat translucent. The saltiness increased quite a bit, especially in the florets. The daikon and the jalapeno seemed to absorb less salt.

                                        I brought the 2+ week version into work to gain a wider response - everyone is a food person. One woman was completely enraptured. One woman couldn't get past the salt. The rest of use liked it but felt the salt needed to be reduced and it needed more heat and perhaps some form of peppercorn or other spice would be nice. Do you have any ideas? I'm operating in the dark since my kimchi experience is very limited!

                                        I am interested in continuing to play around with this process. It was very simple, each step took very little time. My ceramic bean crock was the perfect size for one batch. Next time I'll search for a different chili for heat. I did like the jalapeno as a vegetable component, so will keep it in the mix.


                                        1. re: meatn3

                                          To decrease the saltiness, you could probably do a quick rinse of the salted veggies before pouring the brine in, or simply use a smaller amount of salt.

                                          To make it spicier, you could slice some hot peppers and simmer them in about a cup of the brine for 15 minutes or so, until the brine becomes spicy, strain the solids out and discard them, let it cool and add back in to the rest of the brine.
                                          Or you could do the same thing with ground dried red chili pepper, then strain through cheesecloth. This would give the liquid a reddish tint.

                                          Cracked peppercorns would make a good addition, as would some shredded ginger.
                                          Some other things that could enhance this would be adding shallots or pearl onions (halved), chives cut to the same length as the green onion, or more garlic.

                      2. I recently had some pickled vegetables in a Japanese restaurant that were purple, lemony and crunchy. I called and was told they were pickled cucumbers and they buy them. Anyone have hints on if I can make them at home? What makes them purple? Pickled plum vinegar? (omeboshi) More on topic, I have tried a few recipes from Chris Schlessingers book and liked them, especially the pickled vegetables and Granny Wexlers bread and butter. I tried the watermelon rind pickles, too sweet. I also like pickled okra, Talk O' Texas brand, and recently tried Pookie's Pickles, Very cucumbery and crisp, clove flavor and a slight residual heat.

                        1. These are of Mid-eastern origin.
                          Brine of 3 parts water, 1 part vinegar, kosher salt (about 1/4 C per C of vinegar), red pepper flakes (optional) to taste.
                          Vegetables pickled are usually wedges of cabbage, cauliflower florets and sliced turnips. A couple of slices of raw beet are usually added to the brine strictly for color. Pickles come out w/ a pink hue. Jar (w/lid on) the brined veggies at room temperature for 1 day, then refrigerate for 4 days. They keep for about 3 weeks, if refrigerated.

                          1. Pickled garlic, pickled okra (I like hot okra with whole chilis in the jar), pickled turnips on falafel sandwiches, and pickled red onions. The one time I made a full batch of pickled red onions, I put them on everything for weeks. They're very good on bean salads or in pita sandwiches. http://tinyurl.com/yerbd39. My grandmother pickles hot peppers for greens.

                            I've never had pickled radishes--that sounds delicious! I also like kimchee, but not sure I would ever attempt to make it myself.

                            1. Quick Japanese pickles/salads

                              Eggplant: slice in thin coins (or in thin pie shaped pieces if using globe), salt, place under weight until liquid is released; squeeze out, dress with sugar - vinegar solution.

                              Daikon & carrot (a Japanese, not a Chinese tradition): grate and mix carrots & diakon, dress with sugar - vinegar solution

                              Cucumbers: zebra peel cucumbers; cut lengthwise and remove seeds and pulp; cut each canoe in half cross-wise and then further quarter lengthwise; soak for a few hours in shoyu - lime/lemon juice.

                              These all last for days.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                <<Daikon & carrot>>

                                I do much the same but throw in Nu'oc Mam Pha San. A little heat is also needed for my taste.

                                (Nu'oc Mam Pha San is a sweet garlicky spring roll fish sauce that my wife and I like. We discovered it by the slow, arduous process of working through the fifty-odd varieties stocked in our local Asian supermarket.)

                                1. A bit to the left of the sour/fermented pickle variety - I've been served "Fire & Ice" pickles at a couple of different (*)restaurants of late. I was able to find a recipe and was surprised they start with a regular, run of the mill commercial dill, completely drained with addition of sugar, peppers, garlic and red pepper sauce. The sugar has an interaction with the residual vinegar, lending a chilled sensation to the tongue, thus the "Ice" and of course the peppers ended with an expected heat. Addictive.

                                  * The pickles I was served at restaurants were better than the commercially jarred variety due to their thickness, so beginning with a "true" homemade pickle would be advantageous. The thicker pickle was meatier - had more texture.

                                    1. I pickle onions. In the UK, there's a small bulb sold specifically for pickling.

                                      Preserving usign sugar and vinegar used to be very common here but is now a dying art with more modern methods of preservation. The growth of the farmers market movement now means it's much easier to buy interesting and high quality preserves.

                                      We make a distinction between pickles and chutnies although the process is very similar. Broadly speaking, a pickle has identifiable bits in it, a chutney is more of a homogenous mush. I make chutney much more often than pickles (and am still on some of my 2006 vintage beetroot chutney). Occasionally, I pickle stuff other than onion - a mix of carrot, courgette and onion is one. Piccalli is another (I think the similar American preserve might be called chowchow?) - I'm not a fan of this but Mrs H is - unfortunately she prefers the one she can get at the farmers market to mine!

                                      1. Dill carrots. Old family recipe - water/vinegar/salt brine. Lots of fresh dill. No sugar! (Carrots add enough sweetness). Best if you can make with baby carrots early in the season. And... horror of all horrors ... don't use a water bath!

                                        1. Pickling time will be coming up before too long. :-) I learned pickling from my grandmother and pickle lots of things:

                                          small green tomatoes
                                          whole baby eggplants
                                          green beans
                                          small peppers to make pepper sauce for greens
                                          cucumbers - a number of ways
                                          watermelon rind

                                          I also like to do Euell Gibbons' Dill Crock. It's excellent for a variety of things. He suggested adding nasturtium buds to use in place of capers and those work wonderfully.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: decolady

                                            My supermarket has plenty of capers, but a serious lack of nasturium buds. Where do you get them?

                                            1. re: decolady

                                              Nasturtium flower buds or the immature seeds? I have lots of nasturtiums in bloom now!

                                              1. re: OCEllen

                                                It's actually the seed pods, I think that's what you mean when you wrote the immature seeds, after the flowers have passed the point of fresh and beautiful or have fallen off. So easy to do and better than capers:

                                                1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                  I believe I've tasted them before but this is definitely now on my to do list! I think I will gather pods as they come and freeze them for preserving in a batch. Thanks for the links!

                                                2. re: OCEllen

                                                  Euell Gibbons actually said nasturtium buds in the book. Buds are flowers that have not yet opened. I get them from my nasturtium plants. I have never used the seed pods, but will try them next time.

                                                  Thanks for the links bushwickgirl.

                                                  1. re: decolady

                                                    My experience is that the nasturtium seed pods are often referred to as the buds. I thought the same as you for a number of years, did some research on it one time for some reason and realized that it is the seed pod, rather than the flower bud, that was being used. Maybe the confusion comes from the fact that capers are flower buds, as per your explanation, and people refer to the nasturtiums in the same manner.

                                                    I've also seen the the pickled pod or bud referred to as nasturtium capers.

                                                    I just googled "pickled nasturtium buds," and every link I got specified using the seed pods, after the flowers had died. What a a semantic issue!

                                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                      I am not wedded to the idea of using buds. As a matter of fact, I'd prefer to use the seed pods as that way I get to enjoy the nasturtium flowers.

                                                      Euell Gibbons' recipe is old: 30-40 years. Way before there was an internet. I only knew a couple of other people who pickled nasturtiums and they also used the real buds. None of the other pickling info I had at the time even mentioned pickling nasturtiums. The semantics is indeed interesting. I love learning new things!

                                              2. I made these Moroccan Carrot Pickles yesterday morning, and by the time I got home from work, they were already quite tasty.


                                                1. Pickled Asparagus! It also makes for a great spear for a bloody mary!

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: boyzoma

                                                    Yes, very good, a nice chance from celery, as does pickled okra, if you like okra. The pickling process eliminates the okra slime factor.

                                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                      When I was a girl, my parents had a small town grocery. They also sold pickled eggs. Though I have personally never had them, they sold quite a few of them, so somebody liked them!

                                                      1. re: boyzoma

                                                        I like them. I used to have chickens and used the extra eggs, that we didn't sell, for pickled eggs. I used to put a few cut up beets in the pickling solution for pink pickled eggs.

                                                        Pickled eggs make an interesting deviled egg. Here's a link with a recipe and a nice photo, although I'd skip the caraway:

                                                        1. re: boyzoma

                                                          The bar I work at sells these. I've had people stumble in right before close and by the jar w/ whatever is in it (3 eggs, 5 eggs). I always worry I'm going to find a mess outside the front door, but so far I've had good luck. Young kids use them as a "bravery" test or initiation for friends that are newbies. Some put them in their beers. We also used to sell pickled polish sausage, and had a regular who ordered steak and egg dinners. Personally I don't like the texture, but I bet homemade is different than Sysco.

                                                          1. re: corneygirl

                                                            Sounds like the fare at bars I went to in CT; pickled eggs, pickled hot sausage, pickled lamb's tongues and pork hocks, in jars behind the bar, all good eatin' with a brewski or two. Someplaces made their own pickled things.

                                                        2. re: bushwickgirl

                                                          Pickled okra is delicious! We had some on an appetizer tray just a few days ago. I'm anxious to put up some more myself this year.

                                                      2. Pickled lemons and limes. I use them in several middle eastern dishes. My grandfather said that bars back during the Depression used to serve pickled limes with their beer and cocktails. Way before my time, of course. :-)

                                                        2 Replies
                                                          1. re: OCEllen

                                                            There are a lot of recipes out there. Basically you cut lemons like you are going to quarter them lengthwise, except you don't cut all the way through. Leave them attached at the bottom. Put a couple of tablespoons of salt (NOT iodized) in the bottom of a jar. Salt the cut surfaces of the lemons well and then press back together. Put the lemons in the jar, pressing down as you go and adding a bit of salt. When the jar is full of lemons you can fill with more lemon juice or spring water. Or you can let them sit a few days before adding more liquid. Let sit at room temperature a couple of days and then refrigerate. If you have not added extra liquid and the lemons are not covered in juice by this time, you should now add more lemon juice or spring water. Turn the jar over every few days. After about 4-6 weeks the lemons should be ready to use. You may want to rinse off the excess salt before using.

                                                            You can use regular lemons, Meyer lemons or limes.

                                                            There are lots of variations. To the jar you can also add bay leaf, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, cloves or coriander seeds. (Not all at once.)