Pickled cucumbers, tomatoes, and carrots

Grill Your Vegetables Before Pickling for Maximum Flavor

Pickling allows vegetables to transcend their menial roles. Yet while the method gives them new life, there’s still room to expand their flavors. Grilling your vegetables before pickling them, for example, will add yet another layer of depth.

With pickling, you can use syrups and seasonings to switch up how tangy you make your veggies and whether they should be sweet, spicy, salty, or all three. Grilling doesn’t take away from the beloved flavors of whatever you pickle — it enhances them with something richer. Like searing beef before you braise it or roasting squash prior to making a fall vegetable soup, this extra step gives pickled vegetables a more robust taste.

You don’t need to wait days or weeks before enjoying your pickled creations. After rinsing and drying your vegetables, place them on the grill to infuse them with a smoky, caramelized flavor. From there, you can put the vegetables in jars and quickly pickle them by covering them in a hot brine of vinegar, water, salt, sugar, fresh herbs, and whole spices and waiting anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours before enjoying.

What type of vegetables should you grill and pickle?

grilling vegetables

If you’re going to pass your vegetables through two different intense processes, they should be able to withstand the grind. Something that won’t maintain its structure, like a tomato, isn’t really the best choice. Opt for sturdier vegetables, such as carrots, beets, baby corn, or cucumbers. Grilling may cause the veggies to slightly soften, so it’s important to cut them a little larger than you’re used to in order to keep them crisp.

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When grilling the vegetables, toss in some aromatics and herbs to give them a smokier flavor. You can intensify the flavor of pickled red onions by giving rosemary stems a quick char as well. Toss the rosemary stem into the jar when pickling the onions; just remember to remove it when you want to use the pickles to deliver an herbaceous bite to salads and sandwiches.

The grilling-before-pickling method also works to char peppers or garlic for pickled zucchini or cucumbers. While soft peppers or garlic may fall apart if pickled on their own, steeping them in the hot brine delivers a smoky, pungent spice to the vegetables. Instead of just using whole peppercorns and bay leaves for flavor, grill sliced bell peppers or Cubanelle peppers and a head of garlic and stick them in the jar when pickling squash.

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