- 2 cups vinegar, such as cider, white wine, red wine, champagne, or rice wine
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1/2 cup sugar or maple syrup, or 1/3 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns (optional, but good in most pickles)
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds (optional, but good in most pickles)
- Other whole spices, or dried or fresh herbs, as desired*
- Thin slices of red or yellow onion, or shallot; or a few cloves of garlic, sliced
- 2 pounds vegetables, fruit, and/or dried fruit. If you want to pickle tougher vegetables, you could cook them lightly, first.
- To make the brine, combine all ingredients (except for the vegetables or fruits you wish to pickle) in a small saucepan. Bring the liquid to a simmer, turn off the heat, and let sit for 1 hour to steep.
- Meanwhile, prepare your pickle ingredients, usually by cleaning them and slicing them thinly, and pack them into glass jars.
- When the brine has steeped, reheat it to a simmer, and pour it equally into each jar. Push down the ingredients with a fork. If your brine doesn't cover the ingredients fully, boil a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar, and add it to the jars.
- If you pickled tender items, such as cucumbers, they'll be ready whenever you wish to eat them, but they will get more pickle-y and delicious over time. Tougher items, such as beets, will benefit from more time in the brine.
Safety Note: These pickles are not "canned," and must be stored in the refrigerator.
Here are some combinations that make particularly good pickles:
- Cucumbers, white wine vinegar, garlic, peppercorns, mustard seeds, bay leaf, the leaves, flowers or seeds of dill
- Beets, red wine vinegar, red onion, orange peel, cinnamon stick, allspice
- Red onion, red wine vinegar, dried cherries, peppercorn, mustard seed, bay leaf
- Peaches, champagne vinegar peppercorns, cardamom, garlic
- Daikon, cucumber, carrot, rice wine vinegar, cilantro, ginger, chile flakes