Really great pickles should not be too sharp. We want to taste the vegetable, not just the brine. Low acid and a touch of sweetness will allow you to taste what's underneath it. Use this recipe as a starting off point and customize it according to the vegetables you're going to pickle at one time. For example, I might add the brine to 4 mason jars, then stuff unique herbs and spices into each jar.
Pour vinegar and water into a medium pot (you could try 1/2 cup red wine vinegar and add 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar*) and bring to a simmer over high heat. Add salt, peppercorns, sugar, spices, and red pepper flakes.
Turn off the heat immediately but allow to sit for 5 minutes to infuse and cool slightly. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables (peel or cut however you like).
Using clean canning jars, fill with your vegetable in a way that shows of the beauty of it. Keep any vegetables that bleed colors separately if you want to preserve the individual colors and flavors. Top each jar with the pickling brine. Seal and refrigerate for up to 2 months. Start tasting after the first day to see how the flavor and texture are developing.
*Chefs Tip: Any great chef I've ever worked with has made their quick pickles with a combination of 2 types of vinegars. I love this because it creates a dynamism in the flavor profile. You could try 1/2 cup rice vinegar with 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar.What's the difference between quick pickles that are instantly ready and quick pickles that taste better the next day?
vegetable cuts (size matters) - go for a smaller cut vegetable if you want to eat the pickles immediately. Keeping the vegetable whole (as in whole pickled cucumbers) is a good idea if you won't be eating the pickles right away.
fruit - this brine is ideal for vegetables. Generally, when pickling fruit, you want to try to use it same day. I love to toss some rice vinegar directly onto diced plums and enjoy tiny dices on top of sashimi, for example.
What vinegar do I use for quick pickles?Honestly, every vinegar will taste slightly different because each has a different level of acidity. If you're new to pickling, I would recommend sherry vinegar, red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, or white wine vinegar to start with. You can use distilled white vinegar, but it's not my favorite. I'm also not a huge fan of apple cider vinegar for quick pickles.Best Tips: Always include salt, sugar, vinegar, spices, and herbs when pickling for optimal flavor. You can play around with the proportions to your liking and use this recipe as a guideline.