Virginia Willis shows us Quick Pickles 101 and makes Green Beans with a Master Vinegar Brine, as seen on her Course Canning, Pickling and Preserving with Virginia Willis on Food Network Kitchen.
Recipe courtesy of Virginia Willis

Quick Pickles with Master Vinegar Brine

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 15 min
  • Active: 15 min
  • Yield: 2 1/2 cups brine; about 4 pints of vegetables
Master mind? How about a Master Brine! This simple vinegar-based brine can be used to pickle nearly any vegetable! I’ve always said if you can boil water, you can make a pickle. This recipe is for Dilly Beans, but you could also use carrot spears, raw okra or even cherry tomatoes. Quick pickles are also known as refrigerator pickles. They are vegetables that are pickled in a vinegar, water and salt – and sometimes sugar – solution and stored in the refrigerator. They do not need canning when refrigerated and only require a few days in the brine before they can be enjoyed.






Special equipment:
Boiling water canner with rack, canning tongs, 4 sterilized pint glass jars with tight lids
  1. Place a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet or line it with a clean towel. (This is to prevent the jars from directly touching the surface.) Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, sterilize the jars and lids. To sterilize jars using a boiling water canner or a large pot, place a rack (or often I will use a clean kitchen towel) on the bottom of the canner. Place the jars right-side-up on the rack and fill the jars and canner with enough water to cover the jars by at least 1 inch. Bring the water to a boil, then boil for 10 minutes (at altitudes less than 1,000 feet elevation). Using canning tongs, remove the jars from the canner one at a time, carefully pouring the water from the jars back into the canner. Let the jars air-dry upside-down on the prepared rack or towel and sit undisturbed until you're ready to fill them. The rings and rubber-lined lids must be sterilized, too. Place the new lids in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to a gentle simmer. Very gently simmer for 10 minutes (taking care not to boil). Turn off the heat and keep the lids in the water until ready to use. 
  3. Bring 2 1/2 cups water, the vinegar and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Meanwhile, place 1 dill sprig or 1 teaspoon dill seed, 1 clove garlic, 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds, 1/4 teaspoon peppercorns in the bottom of each of 4 sterilized glass jars with tight lids. Divide the red pepper flakes among the jars. Set aside. 
  4. Wash and trim the stem end of the beans so that they fit in the jar. (I like to leave the pretty curled end intact.) Pack the beans into the prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of each jar. Carefully pour the boiling pickling liquid over the green beans in the jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headroom between the top of the liquid and the top of the jar. Seal with the lids and rings. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks. 

Cook’s Note

You can also use this same brine recipe to pickle 2 pounds okra, 2 pounds cherry tomatoes or 2 pounds baby carrots or carrots, cut into spears. Pickling salt, also known as canning salt or preserving salt, is simply pure sodium chloride, without any anti-caking agents or additives. These additives can make the brine cloudy. It is also a very fine grind, making it easier and quicker to dissolve. It can be found next to the other salts in the grocery store.