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It's time to leave store-bought pickles behind.

May 01, 2017

Summer's greatest foods would not be so great without pickles. Your favorite burgers, tacos and salads almost always come with some kind of pickled fruit or vegetable and for good reason: pickles make everything better.

While you can find a wide range of pickled vegetables at your local grocery store, they are actually quite simple to make on your own. If you haven’t yet seen the light, here are five reasons to start pickling at home.

Pickling is super-simple.

There are reports of pickles dating back almost 5,000 years ago and if those folks could do it, so can you. Every fruit or vegetable that you decide to pickle will be slightly different, but most pickle recipes simply require submerging a fruit or vegetable in a brine mixture of salt, sugar, vinegar and water. The brine is first heated or whisked rigorously without heat to dissolve the seasonings, before being poured over your produce in a temperature resistant jar. Some pickles will require special spices or more brining time than others, but this simple process is the starting point for almost any pickle you can think of.

Recipe: Pickled Shallots 

Pickles last.

These days you can get any produce you want year around, but if you happen to grow your own vegetables or attempt to eat with the seasons, pickling is a great way to enjoy the favors of spring and summer during the winter. Pickled cucumbers, corn, peppers, onions and garlic can all hold up for very long stretches of time as long as they are stored in a cool, dark place. Pack a few jars of pickles away this spring and enjoy them eight months from now when the snow has returned.

Recipe: Dill Pickles

Pickled vegetables are nutritious.

While pickled foods don’t possess quite as many benefits as their fermented brethren, they are still nutritious. According to a UC Davis study, pickled vegetables still possess many of the vitamins and antioxidants found in their raw forms. Additionally, the vinegar used in pickling can reduce your insulin levels and improve digestion. Just be wary of the pickles' salt content, which you can easily reduce based on your own taste.

Recipe: Pickled Apricots

Pickles provide a ton of flavor.

The acidic sweet-sourness you get from your favorite pickles, be they carrots or cucumbers, gives every dish a little more pizzazz. Pickles partner especially well with bland grains and fatty meats by adding a little extra pop that you can't quite achieve any other way. Pickled red onions on your tacos? Yes. A few dill pickle slices on your burger? Of course. Pickled chiles on pizza? The best. Pickles make all of the foods you love even better.

Recipe: Pickled Chiles

Pickles are a great way to enjoy fresh vegetables.

Roasting, sautéing and grilling are all great methods for preparing vegetables. Additionally, so is eating them in their raw form. Sometimes though, you want the snap and crunch of raw vegetables, but with a little more flavor. While pickled vegetables don’t possess the exact same texture as their completely raw counterparts, much of the vegetables’ original crunch sticks around through the pickling process. When coupled with the sweet, salty and acidic notes, pickled vegetables might just become your favorite new kitchen addiction.

Recipe: Pickled Beets