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Basic Pickled Vegetables Recipe

June 21, 2011
 My grandmother was not a fantastic cook. She was a solid cook who made food in a very traditional 50’s housewife in the Midwest sort of way. She could crank out a tasty pie, potato salad, orange cookies, and banana bread. She was also a fan of convenience. She made a particularly interesting casserole she called Goop with at least three kinds of canned soup and Lord knows what else.

But her pickled beets were stellar and I have called her on many occasions to get the recipe. I have it written on the back of envelopes, in notebooks, and postcards all of which I seem to lose at the exact moment I want to make them.

In an attempt to write it down one last time, I’ve decided to share it with you all. I will say I have taken liberties with her recipe (I’m pretty sure she never used red chili flakes on anything), but this is more or less the same.

I am a huge fan of pickled vegetables, so I have tried the pickling brine with many varieties and they all have come out beautifully. They are especially exquisite if you pickle them with a few beets, the garnet beets turn white cauliflower and fennel into a lovely deep fuchsia.

Serve these all summer long with burgers, at picnics, on a relish tray, or chopped up and mixed into creamy cottage cheese with some herbs.

Basic Pickled Vegetables Recipe

Yield: 10 Cups


  • 2 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
  • 3-4 pounds dense, crisp vegetables peeled, if necessary and cut into bite-sized pieces. Such as, cauliflower, beets, carrots, radishes, fennel, asparagus, okra, or green beans.


  1. Combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt, mustard seed, and chile flakes in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved, transfer to a large, heat-proof bowl and cool about 30 minutes.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Have ready a large bowl of ice water. Add one type of vegetables at a time to the boiling water and cook until crisp-tender. Transfer with a slotted spoon to the bowl of ice water. Once cool, spread out on a baking sheet and repeat with remaining vegetables, adding more ice to the water if necessary.
  3. Add cooked vegetables to the pickling liquid and weigh down with a plate to keep submerged. Refrigerate, covered for 1 day before eating. Pickled vegetables will last 1 month, covered and chilled.

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