I used to think that pickling was very hard. I remember my mother making jars and jars of pickled cucumbers, cabbage, jams, or rather варенье, which is much closer to real fruit than we see here in the US. It was hard, indeed, I think as it involved hot-closing sterilized jars so that that could be stored without refrigeration for a long time.
I do not do this. When I pickle things, occasionally even interesting ones, not intuitive to pickling because I found a good recipe, I store the jars in the refrigerator after making only a couple of them.
So, here are the things that I would almost always have in my fridge:
Onions and ginger are really no-brainers.
Once you sliced the red onion thinly, you can pack it into a clean glass jar and pour this mixture over it.
For 2 cups of water, take 1 tbsp of kosher salt, 1 tsp of sugar (I don’t use white sugar at all, use raw sugar or any other you like), 2 tbsp of white wine or apple cider vinegar, a bit of black pepper and spices of your choice (allspice, chili, basil). You don’t have to add spices at all, and after you make the onions a couple of times, you will know how much salt, sugar and spices you would like to have. This is totally up to your taste.
Heat everything and bring just to a boil. Pour the hot liquid over the onions. Close the jars and store in the refrigerator. You can use onions in salads, roasted vegetables, any meat dishes you like. They will be just a little bit softer and gentler than raw onions.
You can make the pickled ginger the same way, but use rice vinegar instead of the wine one, and omit spices altogether. I use this ginger in my favorite sushi salad, and sometimes add it to other salads as well, especially alongside any kind of radish.
Pickled lemon will take a bit more time, but really no effort at all.
For 4 lemons:
3 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp paprika / Aleppo pepper / sweet chili pepper
About 0.5 cup of fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
1/4 cup virgin olive oil
Cut the lemons washed thoroughly into quarters or eights lengthwise and put into a a glass bowl
Sprinkle half the salt all over the lemons and toss around well. Transfer the lemons to a colander and put over the bowl. Cover loosely and let stand overnight.
Take the lemon pieces out and pack them tightly into a clean glass jar in layers sprinkling salt and paprika or pepper between layers. Once the jar is full pour the lemon juice and just on top the olive oil. You should have a jar that is completely full with liquid.
Leave the jar on the counter for a few days rotating it and shaking a couple of times a day. Store in refrigerator. It will be ready to use within a week and will last in the fridge for a very long time.
Some people rinse the lemons before using. I don’t, but I cut them very small before putting in a any dish.
Disclaimer: the original of this recipe, which I only slightly changed I found in Poopa Dweck’s amazing book.