One of the easiest condiments to pop into your next picnic basket (or add to your table!) is the glorious quick pickle.
It’s the season of picnics, braais and general al-fresco feasting, meaning our spreads are becoming brighter, easier and punchier in flavour. One of the easiest condiments to pop into your next picnic basket (or add to your table!) is the glorious quick pickle. You can use up any veg you fancy from your fridge and, with a mix of vinegars and spices you have on hand, you’ll create the most delightfully crunchy, summer-ready tangy condiment to brighten up your plate. Here’s a simple formula to follow to make your own.
Choose your veg
First things first – you’ll need to decide on which veggie you want to pickle. Red onions are a classic and perfect for burger nights, tacos and on top of some ceviche – the options are endless! Julienned carrots are delicious with noodles or stir fry; while cucumber batons are spicy short ribs’ best friend, in addition to bringing life to simple green salads. Pickled chillies are incredibly flavourful and are a showstopper in a simple sandwich or with grilled steak. If you’re a seafood fan, pickled baby fennel lends a wonderful zip to a fish dish.
The sky is the limit here, but just remember to use the freshest veggies possible so that they retain their delicious crunch.
Bring on the brine
For a straight-forward pickle, distilled white vinegar will do the trick and you’re almost always guaranteed to have a bottle lurking in your pantry. Other options for a different spin include the slightly sweeter apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar for a lovely pop of colour, rice wine vinegar if you’re making something Asian-inspired, or even malt vinegar for a richer flavour.
When it comes to the ideal quick-pickle ratio, the following can be used to whip up your brine: 1 cup of vinegar of your choosing to 1 – 2 teaspoons of salt, plus 1 tablespoon sugar.
If you like it a little less tangy, just mix your vinegar with a little water.
Spice it up
This is where you get to have fun and use up spices lurking in the back of your cupboard. Flavour your pickle with spices like whole black peppercorns, bay leaves, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, mustard seeds and garlic. You can also throw in a few hardy herbs here, like fresh thyme or rosemary.
Once you’ve chosen your veggies, brine and aromatics, all you need to do is bring the vinegar, salt and sugar to a simmer over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Add in your aromatics then pour over your prepped veggies waiting in a sterilised jar. Seal until ready to be enjoyed.
And there you have it! A super speedy, deliciously tangy condiment that will keep in your fridge for two to three weeks (if not longer).