Make Ahead

Quick Pickled Apples

March 26, 2012
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes 1 pint
Author Notes

I'm a fan of pickled fruit. It's a great tart accompaniment to rich foods. I used maple syrup instead of sugar to add a little extra flavor punch. I tried making this first with cider vinegar, but the vinegar flavor overpowered the mix. The apple slices will fade with time, so feel free to try a redder skinned apple. This particular pickle would be lovely alongside a serving of unctuous pork, or even on a pulled pork sandwich. —hardlikearmour

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Hardlikearmour is a fierce home cook and veterinarian living in Portland, Oregon.
WHAT: Your new autumn condiment, garnish, sandwich-topper, or snack.
HOW: Make a spiced, maple-sweetened brine, then pour over sliced apples. Refrigerate.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We love how simple hardlikearmour's recipe is -- we'll find ourselves turning to it whenever we have a bunch of apples on our hands. The pickles go perfectly with the rich, fatty foods we crave in the autumn -- and they'd be great on a holiday cheese board, too. —cheesypennies

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white wine or champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup, plus additional if desired (grade B if you can find it)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pickling spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large-ish Pink Lady apples
  • 2 to 3 star anise pods
  1. Combine the water, vinegar, maple syrup, pickling spice, and kosher salt in a small to medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat heat to low and cover and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Spoon out a small amount of the brine, allow to cool, and taste. If you want a sweeter pickle add more maple syrup, a tablespoon at a time.
  2. After you reduce the heat on the brine, wash and core your apples. No need to peel them -- but if you do, it works too! Cut them in half (pole to pole), then cut each half into approximately 1/8th inch slices. Transfer the slices to a quart glass measure or similar sized bowl. Add the star anise pods to the bowl.
  3. Pour the brine through a strainer into the bowl with the apple slices, then cover and allow to come to room temperature. The apples will float, so I used my strainer to keep them submerged by covering the strainer and glass measure tightly with plastic wrap (see photo).
  4. Once they have hit room temperature, transfer them to a pint glass jar, layering them evenly around the perimeter. Transfer the star anise pods to the space left in the middle of the apples. Fill the jar with brine, and discard left over brine. Cover and refrigerate. They are good for at least a week in the fridge.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Mark Limbrick
    Mark Limbrick
  • QueenSashy
  • Marihada
  • Amy
  • ugocrazy
I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.

37 Reviews

Mark L. October 24, 2020
One major problem here. There is no sterilisation or pasteurise stage. The only mitigation against botulinum poisoning is the acid content of the apples (unknown) and the cider vinegar ( can be as little as 3% acetic acid which will not preserve anything). This is not cooked chutney with apple in it, bottled and sealed while hot. In this case, raw apple, unless the apple slices are partly (more than 50 % of the water removed) dessicated beforehand, or kept for several days steeped in proper 'brine' ie saturated salt solution with undissolved salt still available - the crucial acetic acid percentage of the vinegar will be diluted with the water content of the apples. Without a little revision to take this into account - otherwise a great recipe idea and a way to store some of that windfall and a taste of summer!
hannahru November 29, 2021
Hence why this is called a “quick pickle” and not a canning process.
SKESTER816 April 11, 2024
I'm really confused as to what your issue is, it's a quick pickle and the author even states that you can only keep these safely for a week, chilled. So we have absolutely no reason to be bringing up canning procedures unless you just needed to pat yourself on the back and feel as if your making a contribution.
QueenSashy December 2, 2016
I discovered this recipe recently, and just cannot have enough! I served it with charcuterie at several parties and it was a huge hit. Thank you.
Marihada October 2, 2015
It's official, 0.5 oz of the leftover brine + 2 oz Hendricks gin = one FANTASTIC fall Gibson. Early test of the apples (made 5 days ago) suggests that they are going to be outstanding alongside braised pork as well as sharp cheddar tomorrow. This recipe is a solid keeper!
hardlikearmour October 2, 2015
Ah! Thanks for the update: I've got to try that Gibson :-)
Marihada September 28, 2015
Has anyone tried making a shrub out of the leftover pickling liquid? I just made a batch and it seems too good to pour out - thinking I could use it for some sort of fall gimlet. I'll update if I try it!
Amy September 23, 2015
This sounds delicious!What would you use pickled apples (or any pickled fruit for that matter) with?
Winifred R. September 23, 2015
Pork would be classic, but also with cheeses. Aged cheeses would be great in my estimation. Also this would be great with turkey. Just my suggestions. Hmm, thinking on it a turkey sandwich with a nice aged (or not so aged) gouda popped under the broiler with the apple slices sounds darned delicious!
hardlikearmour September 24, 2015
I love Winefred's suggestions. I also like serving with sausage to cut through the richness/fat.
Amy September 24, 2015
Thanks for the ideas. They all sound very delicious!
seth10597 September 30, 2014
If I were to make these in small wide mouth mason jars how long would they last with the lid closed? would I refrigerate them?
hardlikearmour September 30, 2014
They keep at least a month in the refrigerator.
ugocrazy September 30, 2014
Please what is pickling spice?
I'm sure i can find this in my local shop out in Paris. What does it contain ?

Thanks for the recipe looks good!
hardlikearmour September 30, 2014
Pickling spice is a blend containing yellow and brown mustard seeds, allspice, cinnamon, bay leaves, dill seed, cloves, ginger, black peppercorns, star anise, coriander, juniper, mace, cardamom and crushed red pepper. The exact spices and proportions vary depending on the manufacturer.
Winifred R. June 15, 2014
I've done pickled fruit before (peaches, cranberries) and really enjoyed them. This sounds great except I'm not a fan of anise. Would you expect stick cinnamon to be a good sub? I know it's classic with apple.
kavey October 6, 2013
I like to make pickles and chutneys to preserve a large harvest, which means I wouldn't necessarily be eating them within the week. Do you know whether this recipe has enough vinegar / sugar to preserve the apples longer term or is this pickle best used short term only? Thank you!
hardlikearmour October 6, 2013
I'm pretty sure (though would message mrswheelbarrow to be more sure) that there is enough acidity to preserve them longer. I'm just not sure the texture would hold up long term.
kavey October 6, 2013
Thank you!
biocarolyn November 10, 2013
I forgot about these in the refrigerator for at least a month. The texture was fine, and they were delicious!
kavey November 10, 2013
Wonderful, thank you!
lorigoldsby March 29, 2012
Looking forward to trying these with some pulled pork this they need a day or two for the flavors to develop? Or good to go that day?
hardlikearmour March 29, 2012
There good right away, but better after a day or 2.
Midge March 29, 2012
What a great idea to use maple syrup here. Love fruit pickles and yours are so pretty!
hardlikearmour March 29, 2012
Thanks, Midge! The apple color does fade over time, but the flavor improves so it's a good trade-off. I might try using a redder apple next time. I love Pink Lady's and had some on hand when I made this.
fiveandspice March 28, 2012
Delicious! You turned me on to pickled fruit big time with your prunes. These sound wonderful as well.
hardlikearmour March 28, 2012
Thanks, 5&S! These are much more pickly and less candyish than the prunes.
J October 12, 2015
Could you share your recipe for pickled prunes? I would love to give it a try!
hardlikearmour October 12, 2015
Droplet March 28, 2012
These sound really good. My dad makes a similar thing. If you have time to wait you can also try pickling them whole, but I love how neatly you arranged your slices in the jar :)
hardlikearmour March 28, 2012
Thanks, Droplet! I'm not always good at delayed gratification, but whole apples sound lovely, especially with some tiny ones!
boulangere March 27, 2012
I'll bet these are wonderful, and look forward to making some. Look like a great snack.
hardlikearmour March 27, 2012
Thank, boulangere! If you like tangy & sweet, you'll like them.
mrslarkin March 27, 2012
Oh, these sound yummy, hla.
hardlikearmour March 27, 2012
Thank you, mrsL!
aargersi March 27, 2012
These look delicious! I am hunting for things to take on a vegan picnic this weekend and these sound perfect.
hardlikearmour March 27, 2012
Thanks, aargersi! They are definitely vegan