Getting Pickled

May 27, 2014

I started making refrigerator pickles two years ago after enjoying pickled carrots in a restaurant. I realized that I needed a larger variety of pickled produce in my life.

I started with pickling carrots and daikon (long, white, Japanese radish). Since then, I've gone on to use pickle okra, cucumbers (of course), radishes, beets, ginger, onions and more.

In my pickling projects, I found many benefits. I could use produce I had too much of before it spoiled, like the prolific okra we had in our garden last year. The pickled vegetables can be as sweet, spicy - or both - as desired. Best of all, are no scary chemicals in my refrigerator pickles - just organic goodness.

The recipe below is similar to the one I used to get started with my carrots and daikon but can be used with other vegetables as well. Please be sure to read my tips at the end to help you on your way as you begin your refrigerator pickle journey - and it will be a an ongoing activity. Once you see how easy, delicious and affordable this method of food preservation can be, you'll be hooked.

Pickled Rainbow Carrots and Daikon
5 C carrots and daikon, peeled and cut into thin medallions
1.5 C apple cider vinegar
1.5 C filtered water
2 tsp Kosher or sea salt
2 tsp raw sugar
2 1/4 tsp dried dill
2 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced into four pieces each
3 wide-mouth pint mason jars*

Note: If you can't find rainbow carrots, a blend of yellow, red and orange carrots, standard orange carrots will do. I used rainbow carrots for the visual appeal only.

Combine vinegar, water, salt and sugar in a pot and bring to a boil. Place veggies into jars equally tucking 1/3 of the garlic and spices into each jar.  Once the vinegar mixture has come to a boil, pour it over veggies in each jar leaving enough room so the liquid doesn’t touch the lid when closed (about half an inch to an inch). As they cool, seal lids and place in refrigerator when jars are cool enough to handle. Open in a week and enjoy.
*I used 3 pint mason jars because I like to divide the vegetables into one jar with just carrots, one jar with a mix of carrots and daikon and one with just daikon.

Tips for getting started:
- Start hoarding glass jars - or simply buy some wide-mouth mason jars.
- Consider investing in plastic lids if planning on doing a lot of pickling. Search “plastic jar lids” on Amazon (they don’t rust).
- Buy quality vinegar when it is on sale.
- Pick up a copy of The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich.

What type of vinegar should I use?
My favorite is apple cider vinegar. While it can cause light vegetables like daikon to brown slightly, the flavor is wonderful and is what early Americans used for pickling. White wine vinegar and rice wine vinegar are also nice and do not darken the vegetables. I highly discourage anyone from using regular distilled white vinegar. As Ziedrich says of distilled white vinegar “…most useful, I think, in cleaning windows and floors.” I can personally attest to this fact as I ruined an early attempt at pickling with distilled white vinegar.

What produce can you pickle?
The question should be “what can’t you pickle?” The options seem limitless but here are some ideas to get you started:
- cucumbers (of course)
- carrots
- beets
- daikon (and other radishes)
- broccoli
- cauliflower
- peppers
- asparagus
- okra
- zucchini
- onions

Get to pickling and let me know what you think. Enjoy!
If you have any questions or comments, please send an email to me at