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Fear Of Canning? Try A Quick Pickle Recipe

Zesty quick pickles. Credit: Cheryl Lee

Zesty quick pickles. Credit: Cheryl Lee

As the end of summer nears, many backyard gardeners find themselves awash with fresh produce. Something to consider is pickling the vegetables, so they can be enjoyed for months to come.

My paternal grandmother was a master canner. I remember jars of apple butter, currant jelly, grape jelly and other preserves being shipped from her home in Ohio to our home in California. She grew everything in her back yard, and being a woman from the Depression era, nothing was wasted. Unfortunately, canning and preserving are on my list of things to learn, and I just have not gotten up the nerve yet. The comparison between my memories of what my grandmother could achieve and what I may or may not be able to achieve is too daunting.

So I started small by making a batch of quick pickles, also known as refrigerator pickles. At my local farmers market I saw some spiky, egg-shaped gherkins, and could not resist buying them. There was only a pound left to purchase, but knew I wanted to try to pickle them.

When you have a smaller amount of produce, a quick pickle recipe makes sense. No need to follow all the steps needed to successfully and safely can, a quick pickle is made by placing the vegetables, aromatics and spices of choice into a clean jar. Then hot pickling liquid is poured over, and the jar is sealed and left to cool to room temperature. Once cool, refrigerate the pickles and let sit for 24 to 48 hours for the flavors to develop. The longer they sit, the better the flavor.

Quick pickles will last about a month in the refrigerator, and canned pickles can stay on the pantry shelf for a year or more.

One day I will face my fear of canning, but for now I will enjoy making a simple quick  pickle recipe. They won’t last as long, but they will taste as good.

Zesty Quick Pickles


1 cup white vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 pound gherkins
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
6 to 8 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons pickling spice (recipe below)
1 teaspoon crushed aleppo pepper or other crushed red pepper

1. Bring the vinegars, water and salt to a boil. Simmer the liquid for 5 minutes.
2. Divide the gherkins, onions and garlic cloves between two large mason jars.
3. Put 1 tablespoon of the pickling spice and ½ of the teaspoon of aleppo pepper into each jar.
4. Pour the hot liquid over the pickles and seal the jar.
5. Let the pickles cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.
6. Let the pickles sit for at least 2 days before eating.

Pickling spices. Credit: Cheryl D. Lee

Pickling spices. Credit: Cheryl D. Lee

Pickling Spice

This is an all-purpose pickling spice mix, and can be used for almost any pickle recipe.


2 tablespoons mustard seeds

2 tablespoons whole allspice

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

2 teaspoon whole cloves

1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

1 bay leaf, crumbled

1 cinnamon stick


1. Mix the spices together and seal in an airtight container to store.

Top photo: Zesty quick pickles. Credit: Cheryl D. Lee

Zester Daily contributor Cheryl D. Lee began her culinary training at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, then moved to New York, where among many roles she worked on Chef Emeril Lagasse's cooking show "Emeril Live," became the Assistant Test Kitchen Director at Woman's World magazine, and served as a chef and catering manager in the city's cafés. Returning to her native California, she has served as chef instructor at the California School of Culinary Arts and styled food on the sets of television's "Friends" and "The Bold and the Beautiful." She is the recipe developer, food stylist, photographer and chief dishwasher for her blog, Black Girl Chef's Whites, focusing on real food, developed by a classically trained chef, that anyone can make.

  • Sippity Sup 8·24·13

    This is one of those “when I was a kid…” stories that seems relevant here. “When I was a kid” we used to p;ay pioneers and we’d pickle or “preserve” everything from berries we picked to birch leaves. Some of it was even edible. My canning skills haven’t progressed too far since then. This helps… GREG