This is one of my favorite ways to make pickled cauliflower. The vegetables are covered with a delicious, lightly sweet and sour pickling brine and refrigerated for a week. I love the resulting crunchy texture coupled with a gentle bite of acidity, a touch of sweetness, and a hint of aromatic herbs and spices. It goes so well with hearty fall and winter dishes. I eat it as a snack, too. I think it's quite delicious on its own.
I adapted this recipe with a few changes from the Charcuterie: Pâtés, Terrines, Savory Pies book written by the famous Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts in Paris. If you are into French cuisine, especially their charcuterie, this book is a must-read.
While I generally liked the original recipe, I found the amount of sugar used in it overwhelming, so I cut it in half, which made the brine much more palatable for my taste. I also substituted some aromatic spices and herbs to suit my taste. I think the resulting recipe is exceptionally delicious, but feel free to experiment with your own aromatic components. The options here are endless.
What I like the most about this pickled cauliflower recipe is that it uses less vinegar than most recipes that I've come across. It creates a very balanced pickling brine with gentle acidity and sweetness and a lot of aromatic flavors from herbs and spices.
Cauliflower will keep fresh for a week or two after harvest. It's best to pickle it within that timeframe! If you have ever tried to grow cauliflower yourself, you know how fussy it is, so we want to preserve every last bit of it. Making pickled cauliflower is one of the best ways to preserve and enjoy it.
Cauliflower heads vary widely in size and weight. The rule of thumb is that a trimmed cauliflower (leaves and stem removed) that weighs one pound yields four cups of florets. This is roughly equivalent to a 6"-diameter head.
Spices and herbs
My favorite spices are black or multi-color peppercorns, coriander, and allspice. I've also experimented with mustard seeds, nutmeg, whole cloves, and cinnamon. These are also great options.
The herbs add brightness and another layer of aromatics. The original recipe uses thyme, which I like, but it's not my favorite herb. Instead, I use a combination of parsley, sage, and dill. Oregano and cilantro are also very good options. Use what you have on hand because it will be simpler, and those will likely be your favorite herbs anyway.
Making the brine
Combine water, salt, vinegar, and sugar in a saucepan. Add the garlic, peppercorns, coriander seeds, and allspice berries. Bring to a boil.
I do not add the herbs at this stage as I want them to remain brightly colored. Do not worry; they will transfer most of their aroma to the brine during brining.
Pour the hot brine over the cauliflower, close the jar with a lid, and let it cool to room temperature. Then, refrigerate for one week before enjoying your delicious pickled cauliflower.
Serving and storage
This cauliflower is very good on its own as a snack, but it also goes so well with hearty fall and winter dishes. I like it with grilled or BBQ meats.
Refrigerated, it will last for a month, even longer.
- 8 cups bite-size cauliflower florets
- 2 1/2 cups water 600 ml
- 1 1/4 cups white vinegar 300 ml
- 3 1/3 tsp kosher salt 20 g
- 5 Tbsp white sugar 60 g
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 Tbsp peppercorns black or a mix of black, white, and red
- 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
- 1/2 Tbsp allspice berries
- 2 bay leaves
- A few twigs of fresh herbs parsley, dill, thyme, oregano, sage, etc.
- Soak the cauliflower in water for 15 minutes, cut it into bite-size pieces, rinse well, and drain.
- Rinse a few twigs of fresh herbs, whatever you like or have on hand, and drop to the bottom of a 2-qt pickling or canning jar.
- Next, pack the cauliflower (somewhat tightly) in the jar and set aside.
- Prepare the pickling brine by combining water, salt, sugar, and vinegar in a saucepan, adding garlic, peppercorns, coriander seeds, bay leaves, and allspice berries. Bring the brine to a boil and turn off the heat.
- Immediately pour the brine into the jar; transfer the spices, bay leaves, and garlic. See notes.
- Close the jar with a lid and refrigerate for one week before enjoying. Keep refrigerated.