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How to Pickle Anything: A Beginners’ Guide to Preserving Foraged Vegetables (Video)

Monday, March 6, 2017 11:00
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Whether you’re a gardener, a forager, a dumpster-diver or a savvy shopper, pickling vegetables is an unbeatable way to make use of surplus produce that would otherwise be thrown away before it can be eaten or squeezed into the icebox.

Pickling not only preserves surplus veg for more than a year without refrigeration, it adds plenty of flavor, too! Produce that was kind of bland when fresh can reemerge from the pantry next summer as the star of the table.

Basic pickling recipe


  • Jars (‘sterilized’ at home using boiling water or your oven)
  • Chopping board
  • Knife
  • Mixing bowl
  • Kettle/stove-top saucepan for boiling water


  • Vegetables, fresh (about two pounds)
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Vinegar (white or apple cider)
  • Herbs & spices for adding flavor (these can be fresh, dried or frozen)



Step 1: Prepare vegetables

  • Chop vegetables into the desired shape. Very small veg like cherry tomatoes don’t need to be chopped at all. For the rest, chop into disks or sticks about 1-2 inches long.
  • Firmer, starchier veggies can benefit from blanching:
    • Beets, carrots, yam, turnip, Brussels sprouts, and ginger can all be blanched, and even peppers, although their softer.
    • Blanching is when you throw the chopped veg into boiling water for just a minute or three: use 8 cups water per half-pound of veg, and make sure the water is boiling before you throw the veg in.
    • For best results, drain the blanched veg straight away, throw into some ice water and drain again –this snaps the cooking process in place and prevents a steaming heap of carrots cooking too much while they’re sitting there.


Step 2: Layer vegetables into jars

  • Place veggies into pint-sized Mason/Ball jars.
  • You can put one or two different varieties of veg in each jar, or a cocktail mix of as many as you like.
  • Fill jars to within an inch of the lid.


Step 3: Layer flavors over the top

  • As we hinted above in the Ingredients section, you can use any fresh, frozen or dried herbs and spices. Combine the fresh stuff you can find in the garden with specialty ingredients shipped in from the Mediterranean.
  • As we’ve pointed out in other articles here on Survival Preppers, dried spices are a fantastic investment, worth making as soon as possible: there are a dozen or two common herbs that can be easily grown by homesteaders in the US, but there are at least as many exotic spices that you’d start to miss pretty soon when the SHTF. Where are you going to find ghost peppers, or even cinnamon? Stock up now and be prepared (for deliciousness).
  • Mix together the ingredients below, or whatever your preferred version is, and add this mix to the Mason jars on top of the vegetables.

The classic pickling spice recipe looks something like this:

  • 1-2 whole dried chilli peppers
  • ½ teaspoon dill seeds (or a few fresh dill sprigs)
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon celery seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seed
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon McCormick’s pickling spice (or substitute with allspice)

Fresh additions:

  • 1-2 cloves garlic, skinned and halved
  • A few sprigs of oregano
  • Sliced shallots
  • Sliced horseradish

(You can cheat on this last one with a ¼ – ½ teaspoon of the horseradish paste you get with sushi)


Step 4: Heat up the brine

Savory brine recipe:

(Gives 12 cups, enough for 6+ pint jars of pickles)

  • In a large saucepan, combine 6 cups apple cider (or distilled white wine vinegar) with 6 cups water, 5 tablespoons salt and 4 tablespoons of sugar.
  • Bring up to boiling point, stirring continously, until salt has dissolved.
  • Boil for a further two minutes before removing from the stove.

Sweet brine recipe:

(Gives 12 cups, enough for 6+ pint jars of pickles)

  • In a large saucepan, combine 6 cups apple cider (or distilled white wine vinegar) with 6 cups water, 2 tablespoons salt and 3 cups of sugar.
  • Bring up to boiling point, stirring continously, until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
  • Boil for a further two minutes before removing from the stove.


Step 5: Top up with brine

  • Slowly pour the warm brine over your prepared vegetables in jars, leaving ½ an inch from the top. It’s important that all the vegetables and spices are totally submerged.
  • Place lids on jars while contents still hot and screw shut.
  • Pour excess brine down the drain, or find something else to pickle: it’s too acidic to go into your worm farm or compost bin.


Step 6: Store

  • Refrigerate for minimum 24 hours prior to serving (turnips should wait a whole week for some reason).
  • Pickles can be stored for up to one month in the fridge.


Stay tuned for a follow-up article that shows you how to seal pickles so that they will last at room temp for 12 months plus!

We hope you find this recipe useful. Let us know if you’ve created any especially good combos (pickled grapes is one of the weirdest and best pickles I’ve tried). Oh, and one last tip: a shot glass full of pickle juice makes the perfect whisky chaser. Plus waste not, want not, right? It’s called a “Pickleback,” and if you haven’t tried it yet, you don’t know what you’re missing out on.

photo credit: Drinking America ('s-new-pickleback/)

photo credit: Drinking America (’s-new-pickleback/)


Check out more contributions by Jeffery Pritchett ranging from UFO to Bigfoot to Paranormal to Prophecy


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