While pickling can take weeks, if not months, it’s also true that light, crisp pickles can be made in hours. You could eat these Chinese-inspired pickled veggies after only a few hours in the brine, but I think you’ll enjoy them more if you let them rest over night. Pickling, of course, refers to the process of preserving food in salt or acidic brine, thus achieving a pH of less than 4.6, enough to kill most bacteria. Before the invention of canning, freezing and refrigeration, pickling allowed people who lived in cold climates to enjoy vegetables throughout the winter. And pickling is still a great way to prepare vegetables, as once they’re made, they rest in your fridge, always ready to eat. Truly, a healthy fast food.
If you’re worried about the salt content in homemade pickles, keep a couple of things in mind: salt is necessary as a preservative and for that traditional “pickled” taste. Also remember that much of the salt stays in the brine (which you won’t be eating), and that pickles are meant to be eaten in small quantities. They are always a condiment, never the main event. Rinse pickles under running water before eating, if you want to further reduce their saltiness. If covered by brine, these pickles will keep safely in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.
This is a basic recipe. Vary it by using other seasonal vegetables, heat it up with pepper of some kind, if you like, or add herbs and spices. Enjoy with rice or noodles, and pickles are a great addition to most any sandwich. Recipe, after the jump.