The Best Ever Pickling Liquid

May 20, 2020

Pickling is a huge tradition and has a rich and long history in Norwegian and Scandinavian cuisine. I grew up with a mother who pickled everything from cucumbers, beets, cabbage, pumpkins, all kinds of fruit, and yes…herring too!

Besides being a way to preserve foods in the old days when they didn’t have refrigerators, later on, it also became a way to preserve produce with its very short growing season. Vegetables, fruits, and other foods needed to be harvested and preserved so they could be enjoyed through the long, harsh winters.

My taste buds have grown to appreciate and crave the salt, sweet and sour taste of pickled foods; It’s also a wonderful way to add texture and an ‘accent’ to dishes, and I even use the pickling liquid that is leftover in salad dressings and marinades for other dishes.

You’ll see pickled vegetables on very “koldbord” (smorgasbord) in Norway…from being their own salads to being accouterments for open-face sandwiches and bigger main meals, they are a staple in the Scandinavian diet.

pickled onions in a mason jar

The key to delicious, flavorful pickled vegetables is of course… the pickling liquid!

While mine might require a few more ingredients than traditional recipes, I think you will agree once you try it that it’s worth it—and most of these you might even have laying around in your spice cabinet anyway.

You can use this recipe for any pickled dish you are looking to do, and it really adds so much flavor you will want to maybe drink it (although I don’t recommend it!)

I pickled both cucumber and beets this past week which I’ve enjoyed on open-face sandwiches smeared with a lentil pate (which I cooked up in my last online cooking class) and also enjoyed as a side with juicy meatballs and even put them on tacos! 🙂

Would love to hear if you will try it out and what vegetables, produce, or food you are going to try it on!

BEST PICKLING LIQUID EVER

Pickling liquid:
1 cup white vinegar (or sub rice vinegar)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 bay leaves
1x 2-inch piece fresh ginger
2 allspice berries
2 juniper berries
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp kosher salt
1-2 cinnamon sticks
7-8 fresh thyme sprigs
1 piece star anise
5 black peppercorns

Place vinegar and water in a medium stockpot and bring to a boil, whisk in sugar and salt to dissolve. Add all the other spices and allow to steep for 20 minutes.

Slice and prepare whatever vegetable(s) you are pickling and place in a sterile canister jar. Pour the liquid over to cover and let completely cool in the refrigerator before screwing on the lid.

Keeps in the fridge for about 1 month.

BEST PICKLING LIQUID EVER

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Ingredients

Pickling liquid:

  • 1 cup white vinegar or sub rice vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 x 2-inch piece fresh ginger
  • 2 allspice berries
  • 2 juniper berries
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks
  • 7-8 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 piece star anise
  • 5 black peppercorns

Instructions

  • Place vinegar and water in a medium stockpot and bring to a boil, whisk in sugar and salt to dissolve. Add all the other spices and allow to steep for 20 minutes.
  • Slice and prepare whatever vegetable(s) you are pickling and place in a sterile canister jar. Pour the liquid over to cover and let completely cool in the refrigerator before screwing on the lid.
  • Keeps in the fridge for about 1 month.

20 Comments

  1. Darlene Martin

    Where do you buy your Juniper berries, allspice berries and star anise? Some of these are not readily available in grocery stores. Do you also like to make fermented vegetables (slaws made with carrots, cabbage, onions, some salt and spices)?

    Reply
    • Sunny Gandara

      Hi Darlene, I guess I’m luckily that I’ve also found these spices in grocery stores in my area (I live in upstate NY). But in case you can’t find them in yours, my favorite spice store that also ship is Kalustyan’s in New York, you can check it out at: http://kalustyans.com/

      I love making fermented vegetables! I wrote a blog post about it a while back on my other site: https://sunnygandara.com/the-healing-properties-of-fermented-foods/

      Reply
  2. Mollie Battenhouse

    Hi Sunny! I made pickled radishes with your recipe. They were fresh from my garden, and it’s so good. Gennady LOVES them. I didn’t have Star Anise at home so I used some Anise seed, and I had used my thyme for something else, so I put in oregano because I had that. I’m going to get Star Anise and I picked extra thyme to try it on another batch of radishes.

    What recipes do you suggest for the radish tops?

    Reply
    • Sunny Gandara

      Hey Mollie, so great to hear from you and that you tried out my pickle recipe! Your substitutions sound great to me 🙂 For your radish tops, I would either turn them into a pesto (If you need a recipe for that you can use the one in this post: https://sunnygandara.com/spring-into-the-season-with-a-delightful-asparagus-tart/) or fold into other salad greens for a nice, fresh salad. I also like to just sauté or stir fry them also and serve with roasted radishes, for instance. I think simple is best here! 🙂

      Reply
  3. Mariah Reese

    Can you hot water bath can with this recipe?

    Reply
    • Sunny Gandara

      Hi Mariah, not quite sure what you are asking but I do put my glass containers through a hot water bath – I don’t know what cans you are referring to but I typically use glass… does that help? If not, please clarify. Thanks for your question!

      Reply
    • Laura

      Anything pickled, vegetable wise, you can use a hot water bath on. I would use the pickling agent that keeps things crisp. If I remember right, it’s 20 minutes for quarts. You should look up a good time for it for you elevation.

      Reply
  4. Nelly

    5 stars
    The liquid for pickles taste delicious thanks I have one question I don’t need to give a bath to the jars after they color they have to be in the refrigerator for a month tk

    Reply
    • Sunny Gandara

      Hi Nelly, I’m glad you enjoyed the pickling liquid! I’m afraid I don’t fully understand your question – are you asking if you need to sterilize the jars? I recommend boiling them in hot water as I mentioned in the post. Let me know if that answers your question! Thanks again for trying out my recipe! Sunny

      Reply
  5. Kayla

    Thanks so much for sharing this info.

    Reply
  6. Cindy

    Your recipe sounds wonderful. Is the recipe suitable for preserving the pickles in a hot water bath process? Ant if so, how long does it need to process?

    Reply
    • Sunny Gandara

      Hi Cindy, thanks for your kind comment. I’m not 100% sure what you mean by a hot water process, but I do boil the water and pour over the mixture, then let it cool before I refrigerate. Is that similar to what you were thinking?

      Reply
      • Krista

        They are asking if this can be put in a waterbath to finish the pickle so it can be placed in the pantry and not refrigerator.

        Reply
        • Sunny Gandara

          Hi Krista, this recipe is for refrigeration only. Thanks!

          Reply
      • Kevin

        How to pickling veg without refridge and still can eat?

        Reply
    • Sunny Gandara

      Hi Daniella, thanks for your comment and wholeheartedly agree! Sunny 🙂

      Reply
  7. Jane

    Can this pickling liquid be used to make Pickled Lox?
    What preparation would need to be done to Sushi grade salmon if yes?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Sunny Gandara

      Hi Jane, this pickling liquid can be used for any recipe – I don’t provide instructions for how to make dishes with animal-based ingredients as this is a vegan site but I’m sure it will work well. Thanks for writing in! Sunny 🙂

      Reply

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