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How to Quick-Pickle Anything

By Elizabeth Bomze Published

Got produce, salt, and vinegar? You're minutes away from a tangy, crunchy condiment.

We should all be making more pickles. They're the ultimate pick-me-up for a sleepy sandwich or braise, and the quick kind can be dashed off on a whim while you're cooking something else. Unlike lacto-fermented pickles, which require carefully calibrated salinity and temperature and days or weeks for wild bacteria to develop the acidity that fends off harmful microbes for long-term storage and supplies their complex tang, quick versions are preserved and flavored by a vinegar brine and refrigeration. They're also a thrifty, low-lift way to get extra mileage out of surplus produce; a bulb of fennel or bunch of radishes will net a small jar's worth of pickles, so you don't have to pickle in bulk to make it worth the effort.

Quick pickling is also incredibly flexible. With the following basic brine formula and method, you can turn just about any produce (fruit, too)—in any amount—into a punchy condiment. Feel free to add seasonings as you like.

  • 1. Prep produce

    Trim and cut 1 pound vegetables or fruit into evenly thick pieces for uniform pickling. Depending on porosity of produce and length of pickling, thicker slices might retain a sturdy crunch, while thinner pieces will likely wilt.

  • 2. Mix and boil brine

    Combine 1½ cups vinegar; 1½ cups water; 3 tablespoons sugar; 2½ tablespoons kosher salt; and seasonings (e.g., citrus zest, spices, aromatics, herbs), if using, in medium saucepan. Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat. If using seasonings, cover mixture and let steep off heat for 10 minutes.

  • 3. Temper jars

    Rinse jars under hot running water until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes; shake dry. Tempering glass helps prevent it from cracking when hot brine is added. You can use any heatproof container with a tight-fitting lid.

  • 4. Marry brine with prepared produce

    Tightly pack produce into jars. Return brine to brief boil and ladle over produce to cover (a funnel will help contain brine but is not essential), distributing any aromatics and spices evenly among jars.

  • 5. Cool, cover, wait

    Let jars cool completely, cover with lids, and refrigerate until pickles are evenly flavorful. Pickling times will depend on thickness and porosity of produce pieces: Thin-sliced onions and radishes are ready when cool; cucumber chips can take 24 hours; root vegetables might take days.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.