Tasty pickles on a tapas, ready to eat
Pickled foods are often used on tapas, sandwiches and burgers
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What Can You Pickle? Our Guide to Preserving Flavour

04/20/2023
4 minutes

People have been pickling food for thousands of years. In Britain, most people have tried pickled eggs and onions, but there’s so much more to be pickled! What can you pickle? Almost anything! The list of what can be pickled is long, from cucumbers and peppers to cauliflower, carrots, cherries, and more.

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What Can You Pickle?

Pickling is a way to preserve food using an acidic brine made from salty water, sugar water, vinegar, or lemon juice. 

It’s similar to fermentation, but pickled foods are soaked in this brine, whereas fermentation relies on the chemical reaction between sugars and natural bacteria.

Both pickling and fermentation create foods that have a deliciously sharp, sour flavour.

But what can you pickle?
Well, pretty much anything! Almost any fruit and vegetable can be pickled. Sweet or savoury, you can pickle:

  • asparaguses
  • blueberries
  • cauliflower
  • carrots
  • cherries
  • fennel
  • ginger
  • grapes
  • mushrooms
  • onions
  • parsnips
  • peaches
  • peppers
  • rhubarb
  • strawberries
  • tomatoes
  • turnips, and more

Discover various burgers with pickles in The Soak Restaurant at The Clermont Victoria, London, or at the The Pickled Duck, Devon - or try the chicken served with grilled lime, pickled radish and yuzu mayonnaise at Ginza St. James's

A jar with cherry tomatoes, salt, and water: ready to be pickled
The process of pickling fruits and vegetables is easy.

How to Pickle Fruit and Vegetables

Pickling fruit and vegies is easy. 

20 minutes

1. Preparing fruit and vegetables

Wash and cut the freshest vegetables.

Cut them into different shapes or for small items like cherry tomatoes, pickle them whole. 

You can blanch your vegetables in boiling water first for a couple of minutes and then plunge them into ice-cold water. This helps to preserve colour for green vegetables. 

For best results use the freshest fruit and vegetables possible.

 

Wash and cut the freshest vegetables.

2. Quick pickling method

Brine being poured into a jar of pickles

Put the food into a sterilized jar and fill with a vinegar-based brine. 

The brine is made with equal parts water and any basic vinegar, from apple cider vinegar to rice vinegar: It’s best to avoid concentrated versions like malt or balsamic vinegar as it can overwhelm the flavours. This method is sometimes called quick pickling.

 

 

Brine being poured into a jar of pickles

3. Pickling high-water-content foods

Green vegies in a jar, preparation of homemade pickles

There’s another method for foods with a high-water content. 

Soak the fruit or vegetables in a salt and vinegar solution to draw the water out, rinse and drain, and then follow the quick pickling method above. 

For watery produce this method helps the pickling solution penetrate deeper and creates a stronger flavour.

 

Green vegies in a jar, preparation of homemade pickles

What Are the Best Vegetables to Pickle?

Pickled vegetables pair really well with rich, salty meats and other salty foods like cheese. Why not try some pickled vegetables with a charcuterie board or a selection of cheeses?

Try beets, cauliflower, carrots, and green beans. You can add extra ingredients to your pickling process to shake things up. For instance, try pickling asparagus with mustard seed and dill for an extra tangy taste. 

For something spicy, experiment with jalapeños pickled with a little garlic and dill. Add them to any dishes where you’d normally use jalapeños or to spice up blander flavours. 

Pickled vegies can be added to other dishes as a delicious extra.
For instance, pickled corn works as a deliciously tangy topping for salads.

Display of carrots, cucumber, dills, onion, lemon in a pickle jar
Pickling vegetables is easy and inspirational

What Are the Best Fruits to Pickle?

It’s not just a way of preserving food, the great thing about pickling fruit
is that the process enhances the natural sweetness.

You can pickle most fruit and add other flavours and spices to mix things up a bit. 

How about pickled watermelon served with goat’s cheese? The fresh fruity flavour, the tangy zing of the vinegar brine, all combined with a creamy, mild cheese. Is your mouth watering yet? Or pickled cherries or plums with a touch of vanilla? They’re delicious with meat or in a salad.

Peaches are easy to pickle and taste delicious with pork, chicken or fish. They also work really well as a dessert option served with thick yogurt or mascarpone. 

That’s if you can manage not to just eat them straight from the jar!

Basket of fresh plums, on the go to be pickled
Pickling fruit like plums enhances their natural sweet flavour

Pickling fruit and vegetables is an easy way to preserve them and adds a delicious sour, savoury taste. You can pickle fruit and vegetables and then enjoy the tangy, fresh flavour all year round. 
 

If you like the flavour of pickled foods, why not experiment some more and try some fermented foods

Discover the wide variety of tastes and textures that can be achieved through natural processes such as pickling and fermentation, and ask the chefs about their inventive recipes to revisit traditional English dishes!

Ready to try? 

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All about pickling

You can pickle most things. The best rule of thumb is to choose flavours that go with the salty, sharp taste that pickling creates. Dairy foods aren’t usually pickled, they’re better fermented.

You can pickle most fruits, from apples and pears to peaches, plums, grapes, and tomatoes. For fruit with a high water content, you can soak them first in a salt-vinegar brine to draw out the water and create a deeper flavour.

Apart from the typical gherkins and cucumbers, you can pickle any other fruit or vegetable, like asparagus, peppers, cauliflower, green beans, parsnips, peaches, and much more. Remember to sterilise the jar first.

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