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Basic Quick Pickling Brine - for Cucumbers or Beets!

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  • 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. 
  1. 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.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare your pickle ingredients, usually by cleaning them and slicing them thinly, and pack them into glass jars. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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