I think one of the most quintessential summer foods is pickled vegetables. Pickling vegetables give it a tangy, slightly sour taste that pairs really well with other fresh summer foods. Some great dishes that go well with pickled vegetables are banh mi, burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, and barbecue. The list goes on and on. Personally, I just like to eat them individually. This week I was feeling like making a homemade banh mi sandwich, so I thought I would start with pickling some vegetables. This blog post is essentially part 1 of my banh mi sandwich post. I hope you enjoy it, and stay tuned for part 2 next week!
What does it mean to pickle vegetables?
I think we all enjoy pickled foods, but I would say most of us don’t know what pickling actually does. In general, pickling is an old culinary technique used to preserve fresh food like vegetables and even fruit. There are 2 types of pickling. One uses vinegar to create a solution so acidic that bacteria can’t survive. A good example of this is pickles! The other uses a salt brine to encourage fermentation which encourages the growth of good bacteria. A good example of this is kimchi. In addition to preservation, pickling also changes the flavor profile of foods. Pickled foods tend to have a tangy, slightly sour flavor. The exact flavor will vary depending on the pickling liquid and seasonings you choose to use.
Ingredients, Substitutions & Adjustments
- Water – This is 1/2 of the pickling liquid. I use an equal amount of water and vinegar to create the base of the pickling liquid. If you want to have a less intense vinegar flavor, play with the ratio of water to vinegar. I personally prefer a 1:1 ratio.
- Vinegar – Vinegar is the other half of the pickling liquid. This is the component that works to preserve the vegetables and give it that tangy flavor. I used apple cider vinegar and distilled vinegar to pickle my vegetables. I used apple cider for one jar, distilled for one jar, and a mixture of both for another jar. You can use any combination of vinegars for pickling depending on the flavor you want to impart to your vegetables.
- Sugar (optional) – This is an optional ingredient. I used a tablespoon of sugar to add a bit of sweetness to counteract the sour flavor of vinegar.
- Salt (optional) – Salt brings out the flavor of the other ingredients. This is also optional.
- Your choice of vegetable or fruit – I used carrots, daikon, radishes, and red onion, but you can pickle almost any vegetable you can think of.
- Herbs (optional) – In one of my jars, I added 2 bay leaves and a teaspoon of dried thyme for some extra flavor. Adding herbs can be a good idea to give your pickled vegetables different flavors. Experiment and find what works for your palette!
Making pickled vegetables
Combine all the ingredients for the pickling liquid into a pan. Heat until boiling and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the stove and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust to your tastes. You can also use it right away if you want, but I like to use it when it’s room temperature. While you are waiting for the liquid to cool, cut and add your vegetables to glass jars. Pour the liquid over the vegetables, ensuring to completely submerge them. Let them sit in the fridge to pickle for a few hours up to a few months. They will keep in the fridge for up to 3 months.
What vegetables are good pickled?
You can pickle almost any vegetable, but common vegetables that are pickled are cucumbers, red onions, radishes, and cabbage. In Vietnamese dishes, we like to use pickled carrots and pickled daikon.
How long do pickled vegetables last?
Pickled vegetables last up to 3 months in the fridge.
How do you store pickled vegetables?
Pickled vegetables should be stored in air tight glass containers in the fridge. I personally like glass jars with clamps because they are the most air tight containers you can find. They also don’t have any metal on the inside of the jar which can sometimes rust with pickling.
Do you need to boil vinegar for pickling?
The short answer is no. However, I would highly recommend you boil the pickling solution before using it because it helps the flavors blend together better.
What is the key to quick pickle vegetables?
The key to a quick pickle vegetable is the size you cut your vegetables and the type of vegetables you use. Smaller vegetable pieces will pickle faster than larger vegetable pieces. I cut my vegetables pretty small, so these vegetables will pickle in a few hours.
What can you eat with pickled vegetables?
You can eat pickled vegetables with almost anything. In Vietnamese culture, we use pickled vegetables as a way to balance out some of the richer flavors in our dishes. Some examples of Vietnamese dishes that utilize pickled vegetables are: Bun Cha Hanoi, Bo Luc Lac, Banh Mi, and Com Suon or Com Tam in general.
Did you make these pickled vegetables?
If you made this dish, I would love to see!
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- Combine all the ingredients for the pickling liquid in a pan. Heat to a boil and lower to a simmer. Simmer for 1-2 minutes.
- Remove the liquid from the heat and cool to room temperature (~30 minutes). Taste and adjust to your tastes.
- While the liquid is cooling, cut your vegetables and place them in a glass jar.
- Pour the liquid over the vegetables, ensuring they are completely submerged.
- Cover the jars and place in the fridge for a few hours up to 3 months.