How to Pickle Vegetables

Pickle fresh veggies in homemade spiced pickling vinegar to preserve them for the Christmas season or to give away as gifts.
Pickled Cucumbers and Peppers

Pickled Cucumbers and Peppers

Pickle fresh veggies in homemade spiced pickling vinegar to preserve them for the Christmas season or to give away as gifts.

Salt, oil and vinegar all prevent vegetables from decay by protecting them from the bacteria that could rot them. Salt draws out moisture and creates an inhospitable environment for bacteria, oil coats the produce to prevent contamination from the air and the acid in vinegar, known as acetic acid, inhibits bacterial growth. Pickling combines the preservative qualities of salt and vinegar, and it's an ideal way to preserve vegetables such as beans, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, onions and shallots. The pickling process also transforms the taste and texture of these fresh vegetables into more complex flavors, which taste delicious with a variety of different foods such as fish, game and cold meats. For best results, use the freshest, crispest produce.

Brining and Potting Up

The vegetables need "brining" in salt water first before being preserved in vinegar, to draw out the moisture that would otherwise seep into the vinegar and dilute it. The brining time varies — dense vegetables, such as shallots, need longer than beans or cucumbers. Use coarse salt, as it contains none of the anti-caking agents that are added to table salt.

For 3-1/4 pounds of vegetables, mix 4.5 liters of water and 1 pound of salt into a brine, add the veggies and leave for 12 hours with a plate on top to weigh them down and keep them submerged. If pickling shallots, skin them then cover with fresh brine for another 24 hours before placing them in sterilized preserving jars. Pour the spiced pickling vinegar over them so they are completely covered, and seal the jars.

Homemade Spiced Pickling Vinegar

Ingredients:

6 cups malt vinegar
a few pieces of blade mace
20 cloves
20 whole allspice berries
1 cinnamon stick
6 peppercorns
1 cup raw cane sugar

Steps:

1. Boil all the ingredients together in a pan for a few minutes. Then cover and leave the liquid for 2 hours to cool completely. Strain into sterilized bottles until needed.

2. Use preserving jars with vinegar-proof lids when you bottle the vegetables in pickling vinegar. Leave the pickles to mature for at least three months before using them.

Keep Reading

Next Up

How to Sow and Plant Fruiting Vegetables

Large leaves, golden flowers and heavy yields make squashes, zucchini and cucumbers ideal plants for productive pots.

How to Plant Bare-Root Vegetables

Discover the best way to plant asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries in your garden.

How to Build a Raised Vegetable Bed

Having trouble growing your favorite vegetables due to poorly draining soil? Follow these step-by-step instructions and build your own raised veggie bed.

Freezing Vegetables

Sun-ripened flavors are one of gardening's simple joys. Learn how to freeze fresh vegetables to enjoy the goodness all year long.

Should I Plant My Vegetable Garden in Raised Beds?

The pros and cons of raised bed gardening.

Small-Space Vegetable Gardens

Make room on your fire escape or pot up some tomato plants—you can grow delicious fruits and veggies even if you don't have much space.

Shop This Look

Found a living space you love in HGTV's Photo Library? Get the look in your own home with products from Wayfair.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.