Pickling with apple cider vinegar is a time-honored technique that imparts a delicious, tangy flavor while preserving fruits and vegetables to enjoy for months. The unique sharp, acidic taste apple cider vinegar provides helps pickled foods last far past their normal shelf life.

This article will provide an overview of the entire home pickling process using apple cider vinegar. It covers the benefits of apple cider vinegar pickling, the basic equipment and ingredients needed, step-by-step instructions, safety tips, and a variety of mouthwatering apple cider vinegar pickle recipes to make and enjoy. With the help of this guide, even novice home cooks can easily create pickled treats that delight.

Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar Pickling

Pickling with apple cider vinegar offers many excellent benefits that explain why it has been prized for centuries. The unique properties of apple cider vinegar create pickled goods that retain nutrients better, bring dynamic flavor, and store for remarkably long periods without refrigeration compared to other methods.

Preserves Freshness and Nutrients

The acetic acid content and pH of apple cider vinegar work to safely preserve fruits and vegetables for extended periods while retaining more of their natural vitamin and mineral content. The vinegar prevents the growth of dangerous bacteria and molds during fermentation. The pickling process retains up to 90% of some nutrients in foods that would otherwise diminish shortly after harvest. This makes apple cider vinegar pickled foods like a nutritional powerhouse from the garden.

Adds Flavor

Apple cider vinegar’s bright, fruity tartness perfectly balances the savory, salty flavors in pickled foods. Its mellow acidity tenderizes meats and vegetables without masking their fresh flavors. Apple cider vinegar also enables myriad possibilities to customize flavor with complementary seasonings like garlic, peppercorns, herbs, and spices blended into the pickling brine. This allows for sweet, sour, spicy, or hot-flavored pickled creations to suit any palate.

Economical Long-Term Food Storage

The natural preservative qualities of apple cider vinegar let pickled goods be safely shelf-stored unrefrigerated for up to a year when properly prepared. The extended longevity pickled foods attain with apple cider vinegar makes for an economical way to enjoy seasonal garden vegetables and ripe fruits many months after harvest. For homesteaders and anyone wanting to make the most of times of plentiful provisions, apple cider vinegar pickling is an indispensable, budget-friendly food preservation technique. With a few simple ingredients and materials, pounds of homegrown produce can be captured at peak flavor and crunchiness to savor for the whole year.

Necessary Equipment and Ingredients

Pickling with apple cider vinegar does not require any special tools. With some basic kitchen items, high-quality ingredients, and fresh produce, you’ll be ready to start making tasty apple cider vinegar pickles at home.

Essential Equipment

The necessary equipment includes jars, lids, a large pot with a lid, measuring cups and spoons, a long-handled spoon, cheesecloth, a funnel, a ladle, and a food scale. Mason jars are ideal for pickling as they seal tightly to prevent air exposure. Always use new lids, and check jars and rims for any nicks or cracks before use.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Choose raw, organic apple cider vinegar with the “mother” for the greatest health benefits and flavor. Distilled white vinegar can also be used.


Filtered water is best. Chlorinated water can cause cloudiness in finished pickles.


Use pickling salt or other pure, fine-grained salt. Avoid iodized table salt.

Spices and Flavorings

Whole, dried herbs and spices like mustard seeds, peppercorns, garlic, dill, coriander, and bay leaves enhance pickles. Other optional flavor boosters include onions, cinnamon sticks, hot peppers, horseradish, and more.

Vegetables and Fruits to Pickle

Almost any vegetable or fruit can be pickled using this method. The best choices are cucumbers, carrots, cauliflower, peppers, green beans, beets, onions, radish, garlic, peaches, pears, apples, and more. Experiment with single or mixed varieties.

The Pickling Process Step-by-Step

Now that you understand the benefits of apple cider vinegar pickling and have the necessary supplies, let’s go step-by-step through the hands-on pickling process. You’ll soon be enjoying delicious homemade pickled creations!

Making the Brine

The brine is the pickling liquid that infuses foods with flavor and preserves them. To make it, pour apple cider vinegar and filtered water into a pot. Add salt, sugar if making sweet pickles, and any spices like garlic, peppercorns, or dill. Bring the mixture just to a boil, then remove from heat.

Preparing Jars and Lids

While the brine heats, wash and rinse jars, lids, and rings in hot, soapy water. Place the jars in a large pot filled with enough warm water to cover them completely. Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes to sterilize. Keep jars in the hot water until they are ready to fill.

Selecting and preparing foods

Clean vegetables or fruits thoroughly under cold running water. Chop, slice, or leave small vegetables whole per desired pickle style. Cut larger vegetables and fruits into uniform pieces for even pickling.

Packing Jars

Remove the jars from the water and drain them on a clean towel. Carefully pack prepared foods snugly into the sterilized jars. Fresh dill, garlic, peppercorns, etc. can be added to each jar for extra flavor.

Pouring Brine

Ladle the hot brine evenly over the food in each packed jar, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top. Remove any air bubbles by sliding a clean utensil around the inside edges.

Sealing Jars

Wipe jar rims with a clean, damp cloth to ensure an airtight seal. Immediately place pre-warmed, clean lids tightly onto each jar. Screw on metal rings just until resistance is met.

Allow to Ferment

For safety reasons, properly pickled foods must ferment for a period before being consumed. Set sealed jars aside and allow them to cure unrefrigerated for 1-4 weeks, depending on the acidity of the food. As fermentation progresses, bubbles will rise in jars, producing a unique sour flavor.

Storing Finished Pickles

After the fermentation period ends, the aging process slows down, and pickles can be enjoyed immediately. Or store cured pickles for up to 12 months at room temperature without canning. Refrigerating extends shelf life even longer, while chilling heightens the crispness and zippy taste.

Recipes for Different Types of Pickles

Now for the best part: homemade apple cider vinegar pickle recipes! The brining method stays essentially the same, while the variety of vegetables, fruits, and seasoning combinations used creates all kinds of delicious pickled outcomes to enjoy.

Bread and Butter Pickles

These sweet and salty pickled cucumber slices are a southern favorite, perfect on sandwiches or straight from the jar. Gently simmer 4 pounds of 3-inch pickling cucumbers cut into rounds with thin slices of 1 onion and 1/2 cup canning salt for 5 minutes until barely tender. In a separate pot, combine 2 cups apple cider vinegar, 2 1/2 cups white sugar, 1 tablespoon mustard seeds, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, and 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds. Pour the liquid over the cucumbers and let sit for 1 hour, then pack into quart jars and top with spiced liquid. Cure at room temperature for 2 to 3 weeks before eating.

Dill Pickles

For classic sour dills, wash 4 pounds of 3 to 5-inch pickling cucumbers. In an 8-quart pot, heat 4 cups apple cider vinegar with 2 quarts of water and 1/4 cup pickling salt until the salt dissolves. Pack cucumber spears vertically into jars, adding 2 heads of fresh dill, 8 garlic cloves, and 2 teaspoons of mustard seed per quart. Pour hot brine over cucumbers, leaving 1⁄2 inch of headspace. Ferment for 4 weeks before enjoying.

Spicy Pickled Vegetables

Turn an assortment of vegetables into spicy pickled delights. Clean and chop 1 head cauliflower, 3 carrots, 2 zucchinis, 2 celery stalks, 1 lb green beans, 1 red onion, and 4 jalapeños (or habanero for extra heat) into bite-sized pieces. Bring 1 qt apple cider vinegar, 3 cups water, 6 tbsp sugar, and 3 tbsp kosher salt to a boil. Pack veggies tightly into jars. Pour hot liquid over top, then seal. Cure in a cool, dark place for 1 to 2 weeks before serving.

Fruity Pickled Pineapple

Sweet pickled pineapple makes for a unique, tangy-hot condiment and garnish. It also tastes fantastic in salsas. To a pot, add 1 fresh sliced pineapple, 4 halved jalapeños or habaneros, 1 stick cinnamon, 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns, and a brine made of 2 cups apple cider vinegar, 1 cup water, 1 cup white sugar, and 1 tbsp salt dissolved together. Simmer for 5 minutes, then pack into jars and seal. Allow to cure in the refrigerator for 1 week before using.


This popular Korean fermented vegetable dish packs in nutrients and protein, along with its signature spicy kick. Thoroughly salt 1 head of cabbage and 4 shredded carrots and let sit overnight to extract moisture. Rinse cabbage, then mix with carrots, 1 bunch green onions, 1 tablespoon ginger, 6 minced garlic cloves, 1/4 cup fish sauce, 1/4 cup sugar, and crushed red pepper to taste. Pack tightly into a jar, then cover with a brine of 2 cups apple cider vinegar diluted in 4 cups water. Ferment at a cool room temperature for 2 to 3 weeks, then refrigerate before eating.

Ensuring Safety and Avoiding Pitfalls

Follow these tips for safe, successful apple cider vinegar pickling every time:

Key safety tips

Wash the produce thoroughly. Sterilize jars and equipment. Only use heat-treated vinegar. Maintain proper pH levels. Ensure the lids seal completely. Allow a full fermentation period before sampling. Refrigerate after opening.

What to do if Pickles Have Mold, Smell Bad, etc.

If any fuzz, slime, bad odor, or softness develops, immediately discard the entire batch. Do not taste it or try to salvage it. Start fresh to prevent the risk of foodborne illness. With the right method, equipment, and care, homemade pickles should last for months without spoilage.

Pickling fruits and vegetables with apple cider vinegar makes enjoying their fresh flavors and nutrients possible all year. For endless homemade pickle possibilities, grab some jars and follow the simple step-by-step process outlined above! Now get to pickling!

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