Fresh Pickles

Curried Green Tomatoes. Get the recipe in The Complete Guide to Pickling by Julie Laing.
Curried Green Tomatoes. Photograph by Andrew Purcell.

When most Americans think of pickles, they think of what I’ve gathered into the Fresh Pickle chapter in my new cookbook, The Complete Guide to Pickling: vegetables pickled in vinegar and either stored in the refrigerator or canned in a boiling water bath. The recipe list for that chapter includes some pickles that are likely old favorites (Kosher-Style Dill Pickles and Water Bath-Processed Beets) but also some fun, possibly new-to-you flavors (Curried Green Tomatoes and Szechuan-Spiced Cucumber Rounds).

But some of my new favorite fresh pickles fall in a later chapter of the book: Sweet and Fruity Pickles. I was surprised by how much I loved creating the pickle recipes in this chapter, because I generally turn up my nose at pickles labeled “sweet.” But that term is usually applied to pickled vegetables, like cucumbers and beets, that my brain doesn’t register as needing to be sweet. Fruit is a different story: whether I’m adding sugar or relying on the natural sugars within a fruit, my taste buds find that sweet and fruity pickles balance beautifully with the tang of vinegar or salt brine.

From the Book

Ready to give one a try? Full details are in the recipe, taken straight from The Complete Guide to Pickling, but here are the basics:
You need just 3 fresh ingredients plus some basic pickling ingredients: vinegar, sugar, and salt.
1. Mix the brine.
2. Poach the pears in it.
3. Pack the jar, wait a few days, and enjoy.
Fresh pickles can be sweet and fruity. Learn more at

Tips & Tricks
  • Lemon and ginger to bring out the fruit’s flavor; the lemon also helps to keep the pears from oxidizing and darkening.
  • Although this recipe has more added sugar than most of the other fruit pickles in The Complete Guide to Pickling, it makes the brine immediately usable as a shrub. Once the jar is empty, combine 1 ounce of the brine with 4 ounces of seltzer; leave a little room in the glass in case you want to add more brine for extra pucker power or more of seltzer for a pear-infused sparkling water. Or turn the shrub into a cocktail by replacing 1 or 2 ounces of the seltzer with rye or gin.

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