Like many of the recipes I’ve posted on this site over the years, this pickle is a highly practical one. It’s not really a looker, and it probably won’t be the thing you tuck into gift bags, but it has the ability to use up a lot of produce, and makes edible many of the scraps and bits that might have otherwise ended up in the garbage.
I also appreciate it because all the various vegetables are chopped into similar sizes, so you can spoon it directly into vinaigrettes, or pasta, grain, or potato salad with zero additional work.
Every time I make a batch, it is different. The version you see pictured here included asparagus, garlic scapes, kale stems, and broccoli stems. At other points in the year, I’ve made it with various green/purple/wax/flat beans, chard stems, fennel, minced zucchini, radishes, and the thick stems from beet greens. Essentially, you gather up things of similar densities, chop them into small bits, and pickle the heck out of them.
This is a great one to have in your back pocket when your garden starts producing like crazy, or your CSA share becomes unmanageably abundant. This batch was made with some of the goodies from the Philly Foodworks box I got back in the beginning of June (I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a while now).
I call it a salad pickle because I find that it most often gets used in a salad of some kind. In other regions of the country, you might find something similar being called a relish or chow chow (I don’t think anyone would hang the title piccalili on this one, but you never know).
Typically when I make this pickle, I keep things simple and add just mustard seed, red pepper flakes, and garlic cloves for flavor. This time around I skipped the garlic cloves because so much of the vegetable matter was made up of garlic scapes. It would also be good with dill seed, coriander seed, and black peppercorns. I make mine without any sweetener, but a little sugar or honey in the brine would be just fine.
Do any of you make something similar?
Salad Pickles (aka Waste Prevention Pickles)
- 2 pounds hardy leftover vegetables like asparagus, beans, scapes, or stems
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons pickling or fine grain sea salt
- 6 garlic cloves
- 3 teaspoons mustard seed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- Prepare a boiling water bath canner and 3 pint jars.
- Wash, trim, and chop the vegetables you're using (go for similar sizes so that everything pickles at the same rate).
- Combine the vinegar, water, and salt in a large saucepan. Set it over high heat and bring it to a boil.
- Once the brine is boiling, add all the chopped vegetables. Cook just until the brine returns to a boil and then remove the pot from the heat.
- Pull the jars out of the canner. Divide the garlic cloves, mustard seeds, and red pepper flakes between the jars.
- Using a slotted spoon, fill the jars with the chopped vegetables, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
- Fill the jars with brine, taking care to retain the proper headspace.
- Tap the jars gently on the countertop to loosen air bubbles. Use a wooden or plastic chopstick to remove any stubborn ones.
- Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process the pickles in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
- When time is up, remove jars from the canner and set on a folded kitchen towel to cool.
- Sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to a year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.
- I like to give this pickle at least a week of rest before I crack open a jar.
Any reason why I couldn’t cut back on the red pepper and do this in half-pint jars? I’m the only one in the house likely to eat it, and hot pepper and I don’t get along.
No reason at all. As long as you don’t alter the vinegar content, you can make all sorts of small changes to this pickle.
Newbie question: when do you add the spices? Do they go into the hot brine, ordo they go into the jars ahead of the brine and veggies?
Thanks for catching that, Robin! I’ll amend the recipe! You add them before you spoon the vegetables into the jars.
As someone who finds it almost impossible to throw away all the “extra” stuff… thank you for this recipe!
I agree, and try to find a use for all the “discards.” This was so timely, as I just finished with a huge pile of kale stems that I was going to chop and cook for soup add-ins!
My spouse is allergic to garlic. Can this be made without it and what might I add for flavor other than garlic or onion?
You can certainly omit the garlic, but I’m honestly not sure what else you should add. Maybe some ginger? What do you normally add to things that call for garlic?
Gosh, I’ve just spent five months working with collection techniques for food waste and any kind of reduction of food waste makes me so happy. This is beautiful!
I have to pick my red currants this week and I noticed you don’t have any recipes listed for red currants. Are they not common in the US or do you not like them? The tradition of canning is not really alive and kicking in Sweden (read: it’s super dead and I’m not entirely sure it every existed…) so the recipes I’ve found aren’t specifically suited for canning I think. :/
We grow currants!! I find they freeze beautifully. I drop them in quick breads or frozen margaritas all year long.
I have seen recipes either at USDA or Ball for making currant jelly, but we never have a large enough harvest to even consider that. Freeze them.
Wow, what an interesting idea! I tend to use lots of stems for making vegetable broth, but now I may start saving them for some of this. Or do both!
I’m with you Eileen! I usually save all the veggie scraps to make veg broth – so much better than store bought and you know exactly what’s in. Love to have it available in my freezer.
End of summer found my mom picking the green tomatoes and consequently making green tomato relish. Our family did not experience pickle relish very often, but we nearly always had the green tomato relish to use in tuna or ham or potato salad or on a burger or hot dog.
I would have never done it that way, but last week when I was pickling green beans and I cut off the ends to make them fit the jars, I took all the in pieces and pickled them together just like I did the beans. Similar idea but you have now expanded my horizons!
I did this with the leftover cut ends from asparagus and made an asparagus soup base. I also use all my leftover veggie ends, scraps etc and make vegetable stock. Great way to end waste and I love you pickle idea.
Hi Marissa –
Once you open a jar of something like this, how long does it keep for in the refrigerator?
It’ll keep a month or two.
I love your website. Unfortunately whenever I try to visit it from my iPad I am redirected to the App Store. It happens with every article of yours I click on. Apple has said it is due to an embedded game app code. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this or not.
This has been a intermittent problem for a while. I thought I’d taken care of it, but I will try again. Thanks for letting me know.
I am relatively new to canning and love the idea of using vegetable scraps and stems for pickling instead of putting them in my compost pile. I would love to use the veggie scraps to make a vegetable stock, but how do you preserve it? I am short on freezer space, and I don’t make much soup in the summer.
The only way to preserve low acid foods like soups and stocks is by using a pressure canner. Here’s my tutorial: https://foodinjars.com/2013/12/can-turkey-stock/
I’ve never made these, but now I’m wondering if I should. I tend to have lots of stem-type material that goes into my veggie stock bag, but on the more edible stems like beet greens and kale, this might be good.
What would you think about chard stems in this?
They are a really good addition. They also work nicely as a fridge pickle. https://foodinjars.com/2015/05/csa-cooking-turkey-meatloaf-and-quick-pickled-chard-stems/
I have a recipe for pickles that calls for onions, but is only a refrigerator recipe. I don’t see them listed in your options of things to add in this recipe. Are they unsafe to add to a canning recipe?
You could add pickles to this recipe. They just have a different texture than the rest of the vegetables I used in this pickle, so I left them off the list.
Oh phooey. I meant are the onions unsafe to add to a pickle recipe? Thanks for your response AND your great site!
Onions are not unsafe to add to pickles, because you’re building a highly acidic environment.
Do you think collard stems would work, or would they be too tough or stringy or whatever? I hate to waste them.
I think they’d be okay, as long as you cut them into fairly short rounds.
Yay, something really useful! I’m not good enough at planning properly my food and some leftovers always occurs. I hate when I have to throw away food waste, so that recipe is more than welcome!
Could this be a sweet brine? My family has never been one for sour pickles, in anything. TIA
You could certainly take this same approach with a sweet brine.
Could I use cucumbers in this recipe? Also, I have some pickling spice from the bulk section, would that be ok to use in this?
You really don’t want to use cucumbers in this pickle, as they have a much softer texture than the veg I’ve used in this application. I’d suggest that you look for a traditional cucumber relish, because that’s going to be closer to what you’re looking for.
I discovered this recipe last year and it is wonderful. Used it on a mix of kale, chard, and collard stems. So, yes, it works well on the collard stems.
Goingto try it with beet stems this week because I liked the chard/kale pickle much better than the one I’d used on my beet stems lastyear.
Is this 2:1 vinegar ratio good for pickling just about any sturdy vegetable (safely)? Could I add in radish, bits of carrot, onion, etc?
I love the idea of these pickled veggie stems, but I would prefer to make a quick refrigerator pickle. I saw your link to a meatloaf recipe with an accompanying quick pickle recipe for chard stems and wonder if this recipe could be made with a mix of kale, beet and other stems, perhaps the garlic scapes, too.
You can use this exact recipe and skip the processing step. I use this recipe for kale, beet, chard, and collard stems, garlic scapes, asparagus, and any other long, slightly woody green. Or you can use the quick pickle recipe with the same assortment of stuff. It’s very flexible.
I understand the value of saving every scrap. I also understand that my chickens LOVE this stuff! My neighbors no longer put their vegetable scrapings into the trash…they leave it on my porch in a dish that I return to them. It’s a win / win.
I’m so glad to hear that you have no issue with using up those scraps! I bet you get the most glorious eggs.
Love this! Between all the garlic scapes from my garden and the Japanese turnips, radishes and celery in my fridge, I was needing a recipe like this. Besides using it in a salad dressing, I found it totally delicious strained and put on top of cream cheese and a bagel. New Sunday morning fave!
I’m so glad to hear that it worked well for you and that you’re pleased! I bet it would be delicious on a bagel!