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How to Make Fridge Pickles Without a Recipe

By • July 21, 2014 • 14 Comments

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Here at Food52, we love recipes -- but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.

Today: Michael Anthony, executive chef and partner of Gramercy Tavern and author of The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook, shows you the simplest way to pickle summer produce -- all without a recipe. 

Fridge Pickles

I’ve been fascinated with pickles since I lived and cooked in Japan. There, pickles are an exciting and crucial element of so many meals. At Gramercy Tavern, they work their way into the composition of numerous dishes, too.

Pickling is a traditional and natural method of preservation that captures the season and lengthens the life of ingredients that are available for only a short time. But the way we use pickles at Gramercy Tavern is hardly old-fashioned: We use them to add important and unexpected hits of acidity to our dishes while enhancing their brightness. 

Brine Ingredients

When this process becomes familiar to you, it’s easy to combine spices and herbs to develop different flavors. With carrots, we like to add lightly toasted coriander seed and orange zest to the brine. In addition to carrots, we pickle green tomatoes in a brine with fennel seed and garlic, and combine eggplant with apple cider vinegar and pepper flakes. The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook includes recipes and suggested uses for pickled shallots, rhubarb, ramps, green tomatoes, watermelon rind, fairy tale eggplant, cherries, and more.

More: Step up your spice game with a starter collection from Provisions.


How to Make Fridge Pickles Without a Recipe

1. For pretty much any kind of produce, the basic proportions of ingredients are the same:

3 parts rice vinegar
1 part water
1 part sugar
1/12 part salt (e.g. 1 tablespoon kosher salt for every cup of liquid -- rice vinegar + water)

At this time of year, I like to pickle carrots. So many varieties appear at the Greenmarket all at once, so we preserve their bright colors and enhance their crunchy texture by pickling. We usually start with a quart of carrots, so the measurements for the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt follow proportionally: 1 quart rice vinegar, 1 1/3 cup water, 1 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/3 cup kosher salt. Combine the components of the brine in a saucepan and bring to a boil. 

Pickles and Brine  


2. Place the cleaned, prepared ingredient to be pickled in a medium bowl and pour the hot brine over it.



3. Make sure that the ingredient is completely submerged in the liquid (easily done by covering with a plate), and allow to cool to room temperature. 

More: These carrots are of a different color. 

Pickled Carrots


4. Once the pickling liquid has cooled, transfer pickles and liquid to a container, cover, and refrigerate. Most pickles are ready in 6 hours or less, and they will stay bright and crunchy for up to a month.

Pickled Carrots

Photos by Mark Weinberg

Jump to Comments (14)

Tags: pickling, fridge pickles, how-to & diy, summer, preserving, special diets, vegetables

Comments (14)


about 1 month ago Sharon

Some people have asked some very good questions here. Might be nice if Michael would answer them. Ya' think?


6 months ago Lisaly

This looks fun! I would also like to what the spice that shows up in the photos is. It is not listed with the ingredients. Also, can less sugar be used? I think I will try decreasing it by a third.


6 months ago EmilyC

Your post reminded me to check out the pickle recipes in the Gramercy Tavern cookbook. I made the pickled Bing cherries last weekend: they're incredible! The gently spiced, sweet brine is perfect for the cherries. I bought fairy tale eggplants yesterday and will try them next! Thanks so much.


6 months ago Mary Nurre

Other than the salt and sugar, the picture shows other spices. What are they? What is the lower sugar alternative? And, a quart of carrots is how many pounds?


6 months ago Jennifer Willis

I have only ever eaten pickles. How does pickling affect the flavor of other foods, such as carrots? You mention they stay crunchy, but do the taste the same, enhance the flavor or completely alter it? thanks


6 months ago Maddie and Cady (Hungry Curious)

We used these guidelines to make pickled grapes - and they were great!


6 months ago Horto

can these be hot water processed,and how many minutes?


6 months ago Dawn M Gibson

What's a good lower sugar option? I prepare meals for a diabetic.


6 months ago danusha3

GREAT QUESTION!!!!!! i am not surprised that no one at FOOD52 answered it


6 months ago Lina Calin

How much of the ingredient to be pickled should be used?


6 months ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Lina, this method is flexible, but above Michael mentions the amounts for 1 quart of Thumbelina carrots as a benchmark.


6 months ago Lina Calin

Oops, must have missed that. Thanks!


6 months ago Norbert Birman

The ingredient list lists a pinch of salt but the recipe instructions say to use 1/3 a cup. When should we use a pinch versus using a larger measured amount? Obviously the more liquid the more salt that will be needed but what is the actual ratio of salt to liquid?


6 months ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Thanks for asking -- I added some clarification from Michael and team. You're looking for 1 tablespoon of kosher salt to every cup of liquid (vinegar and water combined).