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Quick Pickles: Meal Prep Hero

Pickling is one of my favorite ways to celebrate seasonal produce. The process is simple, quick, and almost mess-free. Pickled vegetables are great to have on hand in the fridge for an easy flavor boost on salads, sandwiches, tacos, or rice dishes. It’s fun to experiment with different combinations of vegetables, herbs, and spices and the results are reliably beautiful and delicious. Best of all, pickling short season vegetables like asparagus lets you enjoy them for longer without sacrificing too much texture or flavor. 

While quick pickles don’t offer the same probiotic benefits as fermented pickles, they still provide a healthy dose of vitamins and fiber. If you are sensitive to sodium, reduce the amount of salt and add more herbs and spices for flavor. In quick pickles, the salt is not as important for preservation purposes like it is in fermented vegetables but eliminating the salt completely could compromise crispness. 

Early summer is prime pickling season; asparagus, radishes, beets, kohlrabi, and rhubarb all make excellent pickles. Spicy asparagus with red pepper flakes, black peppercorns, coriander, and sliced garlic is a personal favorite. Radishes pair well with sliced ginger and mustard seeds. Later in the season try cauliflower, green beans, zucchini, and green tomatoes. Use this basic recipe as a template to get creative with different veggie and seasoning combinations. 

Quick Pickles

1 pound fresh vegetables
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
1-2 tsp salt
½ – 1 tsp sugar (optional)
Herbs (2 sprigs, optional)
Whole Spices (1-2 tsp, optional)

1.  Prepare the jars: wash everything thoroughly in warm, soapy water and allow to dry. 

2.  Prepare the vegetables: Wash and dry the vegetables. Cut into the shape you want. 

3.  Add herbs & spices: Divide herbs and spices between the jars. 

4.  Add the vegetables: Pack the vegetables into the jars. Leave ½ inch of space from the vegetables to the rim of the jar.

5.  Make the brine: Bring vinegar, water, salt, and whole spices to boil over high heat. Stir to dissolve the salt. Once the liquid boils and the salt is dissolved, turn off the heat. 

6.  Add the brine: Pour the hot brine over the vegetables. Tap the jars against the counter to get rid of air bubbles and add more liquid if needed. 

7.  Store: Screw the lids on tightly and store in the fridge. The pickles will taste best after 48 hours. Keep pickles in the fridge for up to 2 months or can the jars to store without refrigeration. 

Travertine Garcia is the Community Health Intern for SE Michigan with Taste the Local Difference this summer. Contact her at health_intern@localdifference.org

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  in Eat Local, Find Local Food, Health, Recipes