Pickling brines are best understood by breaking them down into ratios of vinegar, water, sugar and salt. For this recipe I used (basically) 2 parts vinegar: 2 parts water: 1/2 part sugar: 1/4 part salt. A good starting point is a basic sweet and sour recipe, which is 2:1:2:1/2. So 2 cups vinegar, 1 cup water, 2 cups sugar and 1/2 cup salt. Want it sweeter? Use less vinegar and more sugar. More sour? Obviously, less sugar, more vinegar. Want to accentuate the flavor of the vegetable? Use more water. Like I said folks, there's an infinite amount of fine tuning available here.
For this most recent pickling endeavor, we did some beets that were taking up space in our fridge. Beets are a sweet vegetable so I cut back on my sugar and amped up the acidity, combining orange juice (because it has a huge flavor affinity with beets in my opinion) and rice wine vinegar to make up the vinegar component. I used a "hot pickling" technique by boiling the solution first then pouring it over the beets. This will cook the beets slightly to give them a softer texture. For other, softer vegetables (like a cucumber), you'd want to chill your brine first so your pickles don't turn to mush.
Cook time: 10 mins.
Prep time 10 mins.
Inactive: 24 hours.
- 5 small beets, peeled and chopped. (about 1 pint)
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 Tbl salt
- 2 Tbl sugar
- 2 Tbl coriander
- 1 tsp red pepper flake
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 2 cardamon pods
- Combine vinegar, sugar, water, salt and spices in a pot and bring to a boil.
- Whisk thoroughly to dissolve the sugar and salt in the liquid solution.
- While the solution is coming to a boil, transfer the chopped beets into a mason jar or other container with an air-tight seal.
- Strain spices and pour boiling liquid into the container over the beets.
- Allow to cool and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before using.