June 29, 2020

Summer in A Jar: Healthy & Delicious Japanese Quick Pickles Recipe

Get Crafty With Food!

The pickle trend is on the upswing in Japan. Pickled foods have always been a part of Japanese diet. However, as the healthy eating boom evolve, people started creating healthier (and more “Instagramable”) pickles that are quite different from the traditional tsukemono (fermented food). 

pickles top

This Japanese pickle recipe is incredibly low in sodium and surprisingly delicious. It is fresh in color and crunchy because the pickling time can be as short as 30 minutes.

The main point of this recipe is to boil the veggies in the pickling liquid for a fraction of the time so that they would be ready in a shorter time while preserving nutritional benefits of heat-sensitive nutrients such as antioxidants and vitamins.

celery 2
We eat them in sandwiches, with meaty dinners, cut them up in salads, with drinks, and you can just eat them as is. I especially love them when the weather is too hot and I am craving tangy, sour refreshments.

Vegetables of my choice

Pretty much any vegetable that you can think of is able to be pickled! Be creative!

Trim and cut into bite-size florets. Though cauliflower isn’t my family's favorite vegetable to eat normally, they love it pickled. Its firm texture and mild flavor is so refreshing that they disappear quickly. Try pickling purple or green cauliflower as well if you have them on hand! They would look very pretty in a jar. 


Peel and cut lengthwise into sticks or cut diagonally into slices. They are delicious as a crunchy snack straight from the jar!


Cut into thick slices. Pickled celery can be used in any chopped salads! They give layers of flavor, color, and crunch in every bite.


okra 3
Cut off the head end of okras. Peel off the hard edge shown in the picture above left. Be careful not cut too deep, brine gets inside.

You might think okra is a Southern favorite, but did you know that okra is a very popular vegetable in Japanese cuisine? Okra is called "superfood" because it is super rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Okra is so delicious when pickled. It is my daughter’s and my No.1 favorite pickled veggie!

Cherry Tomato

Use a skewer or a fork to poke two to three holes in each of the tomatoes so the flavor seeps in. Pickled cherry tomatoes are great as a part of a cheese plate, and garnish for a martini! 

Brussels Sprout

brussels sprout 2
Cut off the brown ends and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Cut in halves. Serve them alongside a rich meat or cheese dish. They make a delightful garnish for a Bloody Mary, too!

Red Onion

red onion
My husband cannot get enough of red onion pickles! Cut into chunks or slices. Red onion makes the pickling liquid beautiful purple. Jar them separately if you like to avoid coloring the liquid for your other veggies.

Red and Yellow Bell Pepper

bell peppers
Pick a peck of peppers and pickle them!
Cut into sticks or rounds.They would be so yummy on burgers!


Cut into classic sticks, or into thick round slices. They taste much more subtle than pickles you buy at the supermarket!


Cut in halves. Despite the pretty red color, radishes emit a strong unique smell during the fermentation process. Some people like the smell but others do not so much. Use a separate jar for this vegetable so that the smell will not affect other vegetables.

Ingredients for Japanese Healthy Pickling Liquid

1  cup Vinegar
1  cup White Wine
3  tablespoon Sugar
1 - 1/2  teaspoon Salt
1 - 1/2  teaspoon Black Peppercorn
1  Bay Leaf
1/3  teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
1  clove Garlic

💡Any basic vinegar works — rice vinegar, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and white wine vinegar all work well. You can use them in combination as well. However, aged or concentrated vinegar like balsamic or malt vinegar are not suitable for pickling.

💡This recipe is made to fit two 1-pint jars with vegetables. Multiply and adjust the recipe per number and size of jars and amount of vegetables.


brine1. Bring pickling liquid ingredients to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Boil for 1 minute.

brine 42. Add vegetables that are hard first. Boil for 2 minutes. In this recipe, these are brussels sprouts, carrots, and cauliflowers.

brine 53. Add remaining vegetables except cucumbers and tomatoes. Bring to boil again then turn off the heat.

brine 24. Add cucumbers and tomatoes. Cover the saucepan and wait for 1 minute.

jar 45. Fill the jars with vegetables and pickling liquid. You can combine vegetables in one jar or keep them separate.

jar 56. Close the jars tightly. Refrigerate the jars for at least 30 minutes before eating the pickles. 

ready to eat 1

They can be eaten immediately or wait for a day or two. Letting them sit longer helps the flavors develop more and makes the vegetables less crunchy. Enjoy the difference of colors, acidity and texture to find your favorite storage time!

💡This recipe is a quick pickling recipe that lasts for up to 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator. It has not been tested for long term canning.


Did you like the recipe? Make your own healthy pickles and crunch away or find more recipes on our blog! If you enjoyed this recipe and want to get crafty without food, we offer courses on 3 traditional Japanese crafts that are full of history and culture! See our Chigiri-e, Etegami, & Chirimen pages for more information!


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