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How to Make Quick Pickles

How to Make Quick Pickles

Kenji proves that it's possible to make crowd-pleasing pickles no time.

Q: Can I make tasty pickles in less than a week?

A: Quick pickles are delicious. And easy: Combine vinegar, salt, sugar, water, and aromatics; boil and pour over veggies, covering them with a clean kitchen towel to keep them submerged. Chill for a few hours (overnight is even better), and presto—you're a bona fide pickler.

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The key to a successful quick pickle lies in the ratio of four main ingredients: water, acid, sugar, and salt. I usually lean on these three basic ratios.

  • For supersharp, tangy pickles: 1 cup vinegar and about 1½ tablespoons salt. Heat this mixture with 1 bay leaf, 1 dozen pearl onions, 1 tablespoon each of whole black peppercorns and mustard seeds; pour it over tiny cucumbers, and you have French cornichons. Add whole garlic cloves, crushed red pepper, and dill seed for dilly beans or carrots.
  • For sweet pickles: 1 cup each vinegar, water, and sugar, plus 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Heat and pour over thinly sliced red onion and sliced jalapeño for a perfect taco garnish.
  • For all-purpose pickles: Equal parts water and vinegar, with salt to taste (about 1 tablespoon per cup works well), will give you bright, crunchy pickles to serve with sandwiches or at a cookout.

Keep your quick pickles refrigerated in airtight containers, and eat them within a couple of weeks. Somehow I don't think that'll be a problem.

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  • 2 cups thinly sliced cucumbers (1/4-inch thick)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick® Whole Celery Seed
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick® Yellow Mustard Seed
  • 1 teaspoon non-iodized salt

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Recipe Summary

  • 4 pounds 4- to 6-inch cucumbers, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 pounds onions, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup canning salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 3 cups vinegar
  • Ball® Pickle Crisp® Granules
  • 7 Ball® or Kerr® Pint (16 oz) Jars with lids and bands

Combine cucumber and onion slices in a large bowl, layering with salt: cover with ice cubes. Let stand 11/2 hours. Drain rinse drain again.

Combine remaining ingredients except Pickle Crisp in a large saucepot bring to a boil. Add drained cucumbers and onions and return to a boil.

Pack hot pickles and liquid into hot jars, 1/2-inch headspace. Add rounded 1/8 tsp Pickle Crisp® Granules to each jar. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps.

Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner, adjusting for altitude.

© 2011 Hearthmark, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Ball logo and Ball®, TMs Ball Corporation, used under license. Kerr logo and Kerr®, TMs Kerr Group Inc., used under license.

13 Crunchy Quick Pickle Recipes

Say hello to delicious small-batch pickles that take just minutes to make.

Say hello to delicious small-batch pickles that take just minutes to make. Quick pickles differ from prepared pickles in the way they’re prepared. Prepared pickles (like jarred dill pickles, sauerkraut or kimchi) are brined in a salt solution until they go through a fermentation process, which can take weeks or months, depending on the product. During the fermentation phase, the natural bacteria eats the natural sugars (in the foods) to produce acid, which gives the finished pickles their sour taste.

Quick pickles, on the other hand, are brined in a vinegar and salt mixture, and the thinner you slice the vegetables, the faster they’ll pickle. Depending on the recipe, you may be able to eat them right away, or allow the flavours to deepen in the refrigerator overnight. This method is great for home cooks because it allows you to pickle almost any fresh vegetable (or even fruit). Quick pickles have a shorter shelf life than fermented pickles, so check your specific recipe for storage instructions. Tip: Never use aluminum bowls or utensils when pickling as the acid could react to the metal, and leave the pickles with a metallic taste. It is best to use glass, ceramic or stainless steel equipment. Scroll through the gallery below for some of our favourite quick pickle recipes.

How to Make Pickles

These pickles are so easy to make! You’ll find the full recipe below, but here’s a preview:

  1. Slice your cucumbers as desired.
  2. Whisk together a basic brine made of water, vinegar and seasonings.
  3. Pack the cucumbers into a jar, add some dill and garlic, and pour the brine over it all.
  4. Refrigerate until the pickles taste sufficiently “pickled!”

Perhaps of note: Most of my other pickle recipes start with a hot vinegar brine, which helps the brine permeate tough vegetables. These pickles are made with a room temperature brine, which means that you can skip the stovetop step (and the intense vinegar smell that comes with it). Cucumbers are delicate and readily absorb flavor, so a cool brine yields pickles with the best flavor, texture and color.

Cucumber Slicing Options

You can use this recipe to yield any pickle shape, depending on how you slice your cucumbers. Thin slices will taste fully pickled sooner than thick spears (about one hour vs. three).

For cucumber rounds (or “chips” as they call them on the grocery shelves): Simply cut the cucumbers into thin slices (around 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick) .

For spears: Slice your cucumber in half lengthwise, then slice the halves into quarters. Finally, slice the quarters into eighths so they yield wedge-shaped spears. If you’re using a long cucumber, cut all the slices in half through the middle so they fit into your jar.

For sandwich slices: Slice off a strip of cucumber running the length of its long side. Turn the cucumber so it rests safely on the flat side. Then slice the cucumber, lengthwise, into 1/4-inch thick slices. Depending on the length of your cucumber, you might slice them in half or into thirds to suit your purposes.

Watch How to Make Pickles

Making these refrigerator garlic pickles

This garlic pickle recipe calls for Kirby cucumbers, as they’re especially good for pickling thanks to their small size and firm flesh. However, an English cucumber will work in a pinch. You’ll just want to cut an English cucumber into smaller pieces so it fits into the jar, and you’ll likely need just one or two, depending on how big they are. The pickles should taste the same though, and I’m sure they’ll disappear from your fridge just as quickly!

One word of caution on making these homemade dill pickles: you must use kosher salt. Regular table salt is much finer in texture than kosher salt and will change the flavor of these pickles. Kosher salt is our seasoning of choice for most of our recipes since the larger flakes make it easier to sprinkle over veggies and other dishes.

Once all your garlic refrigerator pickles are gone, save the brine and use it in place of vinegar in salad dressings and marinades. It adds an extra zing to any dish without being too overpowering. Plus, this is a great way to avoid food waste!

Want more with preserving? Try our easy DIY: How to Make Sauerkraut.

Sugars for Quick Pickled Vegetables

Most commonly, cane sugar is used for making pickled vegetables. But honey (if not vegan), agave, maple syrup, and other sweeteners will also work.

If avoiding sugar completely, you can omit it or sub stevia to taste. But we prefer to use a little bit of sugar to round out the flavor profile.


Step 1

Whisk vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small bowl until sugar and salt are dissolved. Add vegetables and let sit, squeezing gently with your hands occasionally to help them pickle more quickly, 10 minutes.

Step 2

Do Ahead: Vegetables can be pickled 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.

How would you rate Quick-Pickled Vegetables?

Pickling/Sterilizing/Canning - the Process This can be a chore when you have to get out a large container and go through the hassle of a water bath for 20 to 30 minutes, especially if you have only a few jars to do. Easy solution! Mix the water and vinegar and salt and bring to a low boil. While boiling, sterilize your jars and lids for a couple of minutes in a separate pot. Prepare contents as you would for pickling anything Put in jars. Now for the easy part. One jar at a time, ladle the boiling brine mixture into the jar until it is at the bottom of the threads on the jar. Put flat sealer lid only on the jar and place in the microwave oven. Microwave on high until bubbles appear going up the sides of the jar: 500 ml jar takes about 70-80 seconds, 1 litre jar takes about 140-160 seconds. Watch it carefully as you do not want it to 'volcano' out of the top. When you see the tiny bubbles for about 3 - 5 seconds, stop the microwave and put the ring on the jar and tighten (if you get good, you can do this while inside the microwave oven). Then carefully lift out (it is hot so use gloves) and place on a wooden/plastic cutting board to cool. After about 1-3 minutes you will hear that lovely 'ping'. sealed. Take ring off, and wipe threads with a clean damp cloth after 20 minutes you can test if you wish, by trying with your fingers to remove the flat sealer lid (if done properly, it will not come off). Either replace ring or just store with the sealer lid only. Note: the sweeter the mix, the faster it will heat up so for instance if canning tomato puree, watch out as it may start to bubble after 50 seconds for a 500 mil jar, and the thicker the mix, the more it is likely to 'volcano' so experiment with it like I did and always keep your finger ready on the microwave stop button. Good canning!! One last thing. if at first you fail and the flat sealer lid comes off, no problem. Simply repeat the microwave process again making sure you see enough little bubbles to indicate the mixture is superheated. Some things to look for: 1) your lid may be bad, the rubber may be cracked or have a small piece missing, so if that is the case, throw it and get another. 2) sometimes depending what you are pickling, the bubbling process may push a particle of spice or such up onto the jar rim and prevent the seal, so you may need to wipe the top of the jar carefully with a clean paper towel and replace flat seal lid and try again 3) sometimes the mixture is so 'unfriendly' that it always seems to put something around the jar rim, so just heat without the flat seal lid and when the mixture starts to bubble, remove jar to counter directly in front of open door and wipe rim with clean paper towel and place the flat seal lid and ring on and tighten (can be done in about 6 seconds max) and the lid will still seal (always test these ones by trying to remove seal lid with fingers after 20 minutes may have to redo if not done properly) Hope that helps.

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Watch the video: The Complete Guide to Fermenting Every Single Vegetable (September 2021).