Refrigerator Pickled Cauliflower
Want to learn how to quickly pickle cauliflower in the refrigerator? This simple refrigerator pickled cauliflower uses four simple steps to flavorful and easy cauliflower pickles in only a few hours.
Love cauliflower? We can’t get enough of it during the growing season, and we’re always looking for ways to enjoy fresh cauliflower throughout the year. However, we find fermenting and canning to be a bit intimidating, so thankfully there’s a super easy way to enjoy pickled cauliflower at home — in the refrigerator.
To quick pickle cauliflower in the refrigerator, simply follow these four easy steps:
- Prepare the cauliflower by cutting off the florets from the stems
- Add the cauliflower and any herbs and spices to a tall jar
- Boil a salted vinegar brine and pour over the cauliflower
- Refrigerate for at least 24 hours and keep for up to one month
Ready to deep dive into how to quickly pickle cauliflower? Let’s do it!
🥦 How to make pickled cauliflower in the fridge (step-by-step)
Step One: Cut the cauliflower to fit the jar.
The first step to making easy refrigerator pickled cauliflower is to prepare it by washing the heads and cutting off the florets from the stems.
Sustainable cooking tip: Don’t waste those stems! Save your cauliflower stem scraps to use in food scrap vegetable broth. Close the loop on food waste!
Step Two: Prepare the pickling jar
Next, add the cut cauliflower to a tall jar with dill or other herbs, mustard seeds, garlic, and red pepper flakes. You can also add other vegetables to the jar if you’d like, we like adding sliced radish, bell peppers, or even lemon or lemon slices when we have them.
Make sure there is about ½ – 1 inch (2-3 cm) of space above the cauliflower and below the jar’s lid so that the pickling liquid will completely cover the cauliflower so it pickles evenly. Any pieces of vegetable that extend out of the top of the water will not be pickled and could grow mold or other bacteria while storing, so make sure there’s enough space.
Step Three: Prepare and add the brine
Now it’s time to make the brine, or the salted and sugared vinegar water that will work the magic of pickling your cauliflower.
The foundational vegetable pickling brine recipe we use is:
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup vinegar (distilled vinegar, white wine vinegar, and apple cider vinegar are our favorites)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
We increase or decrease the amount of brine depending on the amount of vegetables we’re pickling, but this is the general formula we use that always produces pickled veggies with a great taste.
To make the brine, simply add water, a vinegar of your choice (see our recommendations below), salt, and sugar to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
Pour the hot brine into the jar and completely cover the cauliflower, then close the lid tightly and let cool completely on the counter until it reaches room temperature (see first photo for example of brine pouring).
Which vinegar should you choose? For the mildest flavor choose distilled white vinegar. For more of a flavor punch try white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar (our favorite). Malt and balsamic vinegar have the strongest flavor, but we have found the taste of these vinegars is too strong when quick pickling.
Step Four: Refrigerate to quickly pickle the cauliflower
Once the jar of cauliflower is cool, store in the refrigerator and let the cauliflower pickle in the salted vinegar brine.
If you want to serve quickly we recommend letting the cauliflower ferment for at least 2 hours to let it soak up the brine, but for best results and flavor wait at least 24-48 hours. Pickled cauliflower is good for up to one month in the refrigerator.
💡 Recipe questions + quick tips
Blanching, or boiling the cauliflower for a few minutes, before pickling will help it retain its color (if you’re using colored cauliflower). However, we’ve tested pickled cauliflower both ways and have found that the color variation is so slight that it’s not worth this extra step unless you’re very worried about the presentation. The taste is the same, which is the important part!
Choose a jar tall enough to store the pickled cauliflower with about ½ – 1 inch of space between the top of the spear and the lid so that the brine liquid can completely submerge the beans. Because cauliflower is a thicker vegetable, we chose jars that were wider to fit in as many as possible.
You can eat the pickled cauliflower as soon as 2 hours after pickling, however we suggest waiting a minimum of 24 hours for best results. If your cauliflower florets are small, then less time is needed for good flavor. However, if it is thick then it may need more time to soak before it is fully pickled.
Pickled cauliflower lasts up to one month in the refrigerator as long as it is completely covered with the liquid brine. However, if it is sticking out of the water you’ll run the risk of bacterial growth, so make sure to choose a jar that allows the vegetable to be completely submerged in the brine.
Pickled cauliflower is healthy! Per the USDA Food Nutrient Database, one cup of cauliflower has 2 grams of plant-based protein, 2 grams of fiber and is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of iron. However, the brine is high in sodium due to the salt needed to pickle the vegetable, so use as a compliment to meals or eat a few cauliflower spears as a snack with a well-balanced diet.
It’s possible to pickle any type of cauliflower: white (attribute or cheddar hybrids), green (romanesco), purple (depurple hybrid), or orange (aptly named cheddar hydrid) — you name it, you can pickle it.
Quick pickling vegetables does not come with the same food safety hazards as traditional pickling and canning. However, to make sure your cauliflower stays safe while stored in the refrigerator make sure to completely cover in the liquid brine and to feel the cauliflower florets before eating. If they’re slimy, throw them out.
👩🍳 How to serve pickled cauliflower
Quick pickled vegetables like cauliflower are great additions to salads, bowls, or are even a great simple snack. Here are a few recipes and ideas to get you started:
- On a large fruit, vegetable, and nut platter. Use quick pickled cauliflower as a pickable vegetable on a large platter with assorted seasonal fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and crackers.
- Add to a salad or bowl. Top a salad or grain bowl with pickled cauliflower, like this Spicy Peanut Tofu Bowl or on our Leftover Broccoli Stem Salad (add your cauliflower stems too!).
- Snack on pickled cauliflower florets. Grab a few pickled cauliflower bites and a handful of nuts or seeds for a deliciously salty plant-based snack.
♻️ Sustainable kitchen tips + tricks
While pickling seasonal vegetable is sustainable in itself, there are a few tips and tricks you can learn to make this cauliflower recipe even more environmentally friendly:
Take advantage of cauliflower season! The best time to make fast pickled cauliflower is during the height of cauliflower season. In California that’s actually year round (except July and August), but check out Seasonal Food Guide’s produce seasonality calendar to find when cauliflower are in season near you.
Save large food jars to use for quick pickling. We’re always on the lookout for great jars to keep around the house for pantry and food storage, so keep an eye out for larger jars you can remove the label from and save to use for pickling cauliflower (tip: we used an empty Costco artichokes jar!).
Save the cauliflower stems for soups and broths. Don’t throw out the cut off cauliflower stems, save them to flavor soups and broths like our homemade vegetable broth made from food scraps.
🌱 More easy quick pickled veggie recipes
Check out our other easy simple vegetable recipes to extend the life of your fresh produce:
- Quick Pickled Asparagus
- Quick Pickled Green Beans
- No Cook Refrigerator Pickles
- Quick Refrigerator Pickled Peppers
- Quick Pickled Radishes
Did you make this fast-fermented cauliflower recipe? Leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let us know how it turned out. Save this cauliflower side dish recipe for later by pinning to your favorite side dish Pinterest board and make sure to tag me on Fork in the Road’s Instagram to show me your cauliflower creations!
- 1 head (2 pounds, 900 grams) of cauliflower
- ¼ cup dill, or other herbs
- 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Cut the cauliflower: Wash cauliflower and remove the florets from the stems, making sure the cauliflower will fit into the desired pickling jar with room for water to completely cover.
Prepare the pickling jar: Add cut cauliflower to a large jar and add dill or other desired herbs, mustard seeds, garlic, and red pepper flakes.
- Prepare and add the brine: In a medium saucepan bring the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar to a boil. Once boiling, pour into the jar until the liquid completely submerges the cauliflower. Close the lid on the jar tightly.
- Pickling instructions: Let the jar cool on the counter until it reaches room temperature. Once cooled, put the jar into the refrigerator and let the cauliflower pickle for at least 2 hours before serving, but for best results serve after at least 24 hours. Quick pickled cauliflower is good up to one month in the refrigerator.
- Vinegar: White vinegar, white wine vinegar, and apple cider vinegar are the best vinegar choices for this pickled vegetable recipe.
- Recommended jar: Because cauliflower is a wide vegetable, choose a large and wide jar so the florets fit within the jar with about ½ - 1 inch space (2-3 cm) below the lid.
- Other recommended tools: small saucepan, cutting board, knife set
- Prep Ahead + Storage: Refrigerator pickled cauliflower should be made at least 2 hours before serving, but for best results make at least 24-48 hours ahead. Keep the jar refrigerated and it can be enjoyed for up to one month. Do not freeze.
- Nutrition Note: The nutrition information for this recipe was calculated with the full amount of salt and sugar used in the brine. However, the actual amounts absorbed by the asparagus is much less.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 76Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1616mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 4gSugar: 6gProtein: 4g