To Pickle or Not to Pickle?

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:

Pickled onions
Pickled lemon
Pickled ginger

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.











9 Comments Add yours

  1. Your post brought in memories of summers with constant production of закрутки – canning of fruits, jams, and pickles to last all winter.


    1. Yes, I remember my sister z’l and I were complaining to my mom about the amount of black-currant she did – we were bored of it! I wish I could have it here…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. How about quince – I only found it once in my over 40 years here, and it was almost worth its weight in gold, so too expensive for варенье, but we enjoyed compote, though.


      2. that’s why I never made anything from it, except for what used to be our favorite “Queen Esther’s chicken”. We are not eating meat anymore, but here’s hoping I’ll make something
        of quince in the fall

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Now you got me really interested: what is “Queen Esther’s chicken”?


      4. chicken with dried fruit, quince and pomegranate 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Looks like a Bucharian recipe; my sister-in-law makes something similar. I have to try it, thank you!


  2. Gayle says:

    Right now, I have a jar of pickled red onions (I didn’t bother boiling the liquid) and I keep adding more raw onions to the brine when my supply gets low. Not sure how long I can reuse the liquid for, but it’s so good! Have also been thinking about how to make preserve lemons with just the rinds – i.e., after I’ve juiced the lemons, cram them into a jar, then cover with some juice (I suspect it won’t need all the juice). Feels like it might be more efficient and less wasteful since you only use the peel for recipes. What do you think? I’ve searched around and haven’t found anyone who’s ever tried and published online.


    1. I have just made a new batch of pickled red onions too! This time I used made long-time-ago balsamic reduction. I think you can pickle rinds with no problem, but I find it so delicious to add tiny bits of pickled lemon to many dishes – salads even, and certainly fish. I never waste anything 🙂 This is not how I was raised.

      Liked by 1 person

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