Easy pickled cauliflower using gorgeous rainbow cauliflower florets, purple onion, dill and bay in a simple apple cider vinegar brine. Good for you, overnight fridge pickling at its finest, no oil and gluten free, a must save recipe!
Overnight refrigerator pickling cauliflower with onion has become my new favorite hobby. It’s fun, quick and easy to make and rewards you with a big jar of deliciousness to serve alongside your favorite dishes or jazz up your avocado toast or tofu egg salad sandwich. It’s a pickled veggie salad and a healthier interpretation of Giardiniera, a type of Italian relish only this is made without oil and way less salt.
About the Cauliflower
Any color cauliflower can be pickled, but the rainbow florets are just so much prettier to me. You can start with a fresh head in each color that you chop up into small florets, but that’s a huge quantity so you will need to freeze most of it for later use. Alternatively you can go for a pre-cut frozen mix (like the organic florets from Trader Joe’s), run them under some tap water for a minute to take the chill off then into the pickling jar they go. The purple florets will turn a pretty magenta pink color in reaction with the acidity of the brine and you can opt to just use a purple head instead.
The Pickling Brine
A riff on our fan favorite pickled red onion recipe, It’s a simple apple cider vinegar base mixed with water, salt and a touch of sugar. You can make it without sugar or opt for maple syrup, date or agave, it’s a small amount of sweetener to balance the acidity so I don’t sweat it. For a more acidic brine go for a 50:50 water to vinegar ratio and adjust from there.
The Canning Jar
Since this is simple refrigerator pickling any recycled mason jar with a lid can technically work. My 750 ml jar perfectly fits 3/4 pound of cauliflower + 1/2 sliced onion, while my 1000 ml Le Parfait jar easily fits 1 pound of florets, herbs + up to 1 red onion (it’s really purple not red though…). So my rule here is to stuff the jar to the top before pouring the hot brine, then use a spoon to push down on the florets to make sure they all get immersed in the liquid.
Herbs + Spices
I love keeping the flavor profile classic and simple with fresh dill, bay leaf and peppercorns of any color you want. If you are fond of a certain pickling spice mix you might like to add about a teaspoon of it here but don’t add too much as to not overpower all the other flavors. One teaspoon of mustard seed is always nice if available.
Tips + FAQ
- Adding Beets – If a deep more purple color is desired you can add a couple of thin slices of beets. Please consider that even a small amount will interfere with the flavor profile of the brine so just make sure you like that first. If adding beets at all, it’s important to only use white cauliflower as the yellow, green and purple will simply become dark purple with a brownish tint. Conclusion: If you want a rainbow pickled cauliflower then do not use beets at all.
- Make it Spicy – Add a little heat with a sliced up jalapeño or habanero pepper.
- Is cauliflower healthy? – YES! See NutritionFacts + NutritionStudies.org
- Can I use red wine vinegar instead of apple cider? – Yes you may if you prefer, just consider that it isn’t as tangy.
- Using fresh cauliflower? – You can pickle the stems too, chop them up into smaller pieces and mix into the jar.
- Cauliflower Preservation–For recommended processing time in a boiling water canner + storage and food safety guidelines please visit this MSU PDF.
- Canning Pickled Mixed Vegetables? – Visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation!
This recipe can work for a garden mix of veggies so you could expand on the Giardiniera concept with a mix of broccoli florets, asparagus tips, green beans, cucumbers, garlic cloves, super thinly sliced pepperoncini, banana peppers or carrots and even feathery thin purple or green cabbage. I suspect salty olives and capers would be really nice here too.
Store your jar in the refrigerator at all times and it will keep well for two weeks or so, although in our home it never makes past day 3.
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- Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes
- Vegan Potato Salad with Dill
- Warm Potato Salad
- Smashed Chickpea Salad Sandwich
- Paprika Roasted Small Potatoes
- Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans.
how to pickle cauliflower
- Prepare a wide mouth canning jar. (A 750 ml jar will perfectly fit 3/4 pound of cauliflower florets while 1000 ml jar will fit 1 pound of cauliflower easily.(note: If using the frozen cauliflower florets make sure to run them under some tap water first to take off the chill).
- Slice the purple onion into thin rounds and place some of them inside of the jar lining the sides. Add a bay leaf and a dill sprig to the bottom of the jar then add half of the cauliflower florets. Add the rest of the sliced onion and bay leaf then top with the remaining cauliflower. Add the peppercorns and any pickling spice mix if using.3/4 - 1 lb cauliflower florets, 1/2 purple onion, 1 tsp peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, 2 sprigs fresh dill, 1 tsp mustard seeds or pickling spice mix
Make the Brine
- In a medium saucepan combine the water, apple cider vinegar, sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Stir well until the sugar is dissolved then pour the mixture over the cauliflower. Use a spoon to push down on the cauliflower if need be to make sure everything is immersed.1 cup water, 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 Tbsp sugar, 2 tsp fine sea salt
- Close the lid and allow the jar to cool off before transferring to the refrigerator for overnight pickling. Enjoy within 10 days of opening.
- Storage - Store your jar in the refrigerator at all times and it will keep well for two weeks or so, although in our home it never makes past day 3.
- Add Ins -This recipe can work for a garden mix of veggies so you could expand on the Giardiniera concept with a mix of broccoli florets, asparagus tips, green beans, cucumbers, garlic cloves, super thinly sliced pepperoncini, banana peppers or carrots and even feathery thin purple or green cabbage. Go wild!