How to Pickle Vegetables the Italian Way (aka Giardiniera)

June 16, 2015

Every Tuesday, Italian local Emiko Davies is taking us on a grand tour of Italy, showing us how to make classic, fiercely regional dishes at home.

Today: Pickle your favorite summer vegetables to keep them around for longer.

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Giardiniera is a really simple, age-old way to preserve homegrown vegetables from an overabundant garden (the word comes from the word giardino, which means garden) or to simply take advantage of cheap, in-season produce. These colorful pickled vegetables make a great addition to an antipasto platter of cheeses and salami, but can also be added to dishes like rice salad.

You can vary the vegetables based on what you have on hand, but seek a variety: The mixture of colors and flavors is one of the best parts of this preparation. Here, you'll see I've used cauliflower, peppers, squash, celery, carrots, and zucchini, but other typical inclusions are shallots, cucumbers, or green beans. You could flavor the marinade with juniper berries, cloves, peppercorns, or bay leaves—to name a few favorites.

Being that giardiniera or sottaceti (another name for it, meaning "under vinegar") are found in regions all over Italy, there are a number of different ways to make these pickles, all with varying proportions of vinegar and water and different marinating times and methods. Some recipes require a marinating period of a month or so before you can eat the vegetables. This one here is great because, if you're impatient like me, the pickles are ready to be eaten right away. You could also conserve the vegetables by storing the mixture in oil rather than vinegar, which will keep the flavor nicely balanced. 


Makes 4 to 6 jars of pickles

2 1/2 pounds (1 kilogram) mixed vegetables, such as red and green peppers, cauliflower, celery, carrots, and zucchini
4 cups (1 liter) white wine vinegar
2 cups (500 milliliters) water
3 bay leaves
2 juniper berries
3 whole cloves
3 tablespoons (30 grams) salt
2 tablespoons (30 grams) sugar
Olive oil, for topping jars

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Emiko Davies

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The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.


Zeldaz June 24, 2018
If processing in a boiling water bath, the National Center for Home Food Preservation and USDA guidelines advise against the use of oil. The processing time is also below the minimum time for safety. If the concern is crispness, I recommend taking a look at their instructions for low-temperature pasteurization of pickles instead of a boiling water bath.
Jen April 1, 2017
My giardiniara is great , but when I refrigerated the mixture that is in oil, the oil coagulated. How do I fix this?
Author Comment
Emiko April 2, 2017
Many oils solidify at cold temperatures so this is completely normal. If you let it come to room temperature, it will liquefy again.