Pickling leftover veg.

Here’s something I do a lot, like my juicing-without-a-blender post last week, that I do so regularly and unthinkingly that I didn’t realise I’d never written about it on my blog! This is where all the soft or sad or straggly vegetables end up that aren’t juicing material. Like the Mooli I bought last week in a fit of curiosity that softened to a flaccid sadness in my veg drawer as I pondered what to do with it. Nothing for it but pickle by this point, and off we went.

Of course you can pickle almost any vegetables (wouldn’t recommend raw potatoes or pickled mushrooms, but I’m sure someone somewhere in the wonderful world of the Internet has tried). I often have a ‘rolling pickle’ in the fridge, a jar of vinegar and various flavours, that I toss oddments of veg into – the half a pepper curling around the edges, the grated stalky bit of a cauliflower head, the outer cabbage leaves sliced thinly, and just add to it as the week goes on.

My favourite pickling juice is a combination of white wine vinegar, raw garlic cloves, a teaspoon each of salt and sugar, some herbs, a little mustard and black pepper – but it really depends what I’m making. Sometimes rice wine vinegar and nigella seeds are a nice change, fennel seeds can add sweetness, cumin for a curry-accompanying pickle, chilli for heat – the possibilities are endless.

Here’s my recipe for mooli pickle – you can replace the mooli with anything you like.

1 mooli

200ml white wine vinegar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

4 fat cloves of garlic

1/2 tsp mustard seeds (or mustard)

Black pepper

Finely ribbon your mooli – you can use an ordinary vegetable peeler to make ribbons, then for thinner strips, stack a few on top of each other and slice thinly – better to do it slowly and carefully than try to rush this part. If you have a julienne peeler, spiralizer or mandolin, knock yourself out, but the humble veg peeler will do a grand job. As you get near the end of your veg, lay it on a flat surface to peel it rather than trying to hold it in your hand – far easier and less risk of sliced fingers!

Pop the veg in a jar and add the remaining ingredients. Screw the lid on tight and shake gently to distribute the salt and sugar. Label, and pop in the fridge. As a general rule I try to use mine within 28 days if stored in the fridge, so label it accordingly. And feel proud of yourself, you just gave that sad vegetable another month to live. Happy pickling!

Jack Monroe. I’m on Twitter & Instagram @MxJackMonroe


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  1. Oh wow..thanks Jack…..I never waste a thing if I can help it, soups, pickles, flans. omelettes generally being the recipient of anything that needs to get used up…..this brilliant idea has opened up a whole new avenue of possibilities….love it when foodie friends come up with something I wish Id thought of myself!!!

  2. Pickled mushrooms are awesome! In fact when our local mushroom factory stopped making them my (then 7 year old) daughter wrote to them and asked if they’d reconsider. They wouldn’t so I learned to do it. Easy and delicious, just google for a recipe and try it.

  3. Hi Jack, great idea. We had very mildly pickled mushrooms at a Portland Restaurant recently and they were delicious. They had been marinated in the pickle, lightly grilled and then put back in the pickle. The flavours were mildly Asian, so soy and rice wine vinegar. Give it a go.

  4. What a fantastic idea! I often have half an onion and what not in my fridge that dries up and I hate waste so will definitely get a jar ready for me to keep adding the odd bit to x

    • Pickled onion is one of my favourite things. I use malt vinegar or red wine vinegar for onion though, with salt, sugar and mustard seeds, absolutely lush. Ideal for the ‘half’ onions or even the outside layer that you peel off as it softens in the pickling juice… Not the papery layer, the one under that 😀

      • This is brilliant! Why have I never thought of doing this?? It has always irked me to waste those bits (I should really have been freezing them to use in stock too, but my freezer is already full of leftovers) and now I don’t have to waste them or take up freezer space!

    • I like pickles with cheese on toast, or in a sandwich, to pep up a salad, on the side of cold meat or quiche or something like that, part of a picnic, with fish hot or cold – as a snack straight from the jar… I am a bit pickle obsessed 😀

  5. Ahhh, finally – the inspiration I need to sort through my fridge. Do these need to be left for a while before you can use them or are they good to go pretty much straight away? I love your website Jack!

  6. Age adds sweetness as the vegetables dry out a bit, I think. Certainly in the case of carrots and wimpy tomatoes, anyway.
    I’ve never known what to do with mooli – let alone what it tastes like – so have never bought any of those regularly offered on my local street market – but at least I now know what I can do if I buy one and fail to use it properly in time!

    • Mooli is also good raw, but only when fresh and crunchy. Ribbon it and toss in kitchen paper or a clean tea towel to remove excess moisture, then lightly salt it and you’re away. A nice accompaniment to oily fish, like mackerel or salmon or sardines, really fresh and subtle.

  7. NEVER thought of pickling – if it can’t be whizzed up into a soup/bolognaise/chilli then it goes to my mum’s chickens… thanks Jack for giving us another fantastic money saving idea!

  8. Oh THANKU thanku thanku Jack-I realise that THIS is the recipe I’ve been waiting for! Especially now we have a bit of warmer weather:))

  9. Yet another fab’ idea and another one I will be putting in practice this weekend, or even tonight. I’ve been eating your kale, lentil and bean salad for lunch everyday this week – feeling healthy and thrifty and loving it. Thank you 🙂

  10. I know this might sound a bit far fetched as it involves leftover wine – far fetched in my house any way! But if you are into pickling – have you thought of making your own white wine vinegar for it? I keep a big jar with a lump of mother of vinegar in it, which is that jelly like, opaque lump you see in good vinegars (and which I thought until a year or so back was a sign that the vinegar was going bad- whoops!) and top up with whatever white wine I have leftover. It doesn’t have to be the same wine even. I’m sure there are purists out there who would say I’m doing it all wrong but I find it really tasty and use it a lot for pickling.

  11. Great idea, thanks. I’ve just put together half an onion that was past it’s best, some red cabbage and a bit of julienned carrot with some red wine wine vinegar, mustard seeds, salt and sugar. It probably all would have ended up in the bin before.

  12. My wife has been talking about wanting to try pickling for a wee while now so I know she’ll really appreciate this article – thank you.

  13. thanks for making this so simple and straightforward Jack – have wanted to make my own pickles for ages and absolutely doing it now i’ve got a few simple steps in my head 😀


  14. mooli is used in a lot of indian recipes, ive never eaten one either as i can only get them at an asian supermarket, and thats 25 miles away from me!

  15. Very much a throwback to the 1950’s. So you do have a commonality with UKIP. LOL. Only joking Jack. I have always loved pickled food & hate wasting it & the culture of not valuing what we eat. So stupid. My grandparents & my dear old mum always used to pickle, make jam, homemade wine, kill a pig, butcher it, preserve it. Pour sewage & farm yard manure on the garden, to provide nutrients & macrobiological activity to keep the soil fertile.

  16. I am one of those that pickle mushrooms. They are great in a casserole. We are very boring when it comes to food here and rarely bother with pickles but sometimes chop them into stews/casseroles to give them a lift.

  17. Brilliant! I pickle, but it was always a big to do rather than a quick weekday thing. Can’t wait to try. I had to google moolie to realize it was another word for daikon, yum!

    Also, I don’t know if it counts as a pickle, but an overnight marinade of mushrooms in a bit of vinegar with whatever herbs or spices you throw in is simply delish the next day, I jazz up pasta or soups with them.

  18. I have a big jar of left-over gherkin vinegar that I chuck bits of onion, cucumber etc into. My Gran used to make the best sliced pickled onions and cucumber that she called ‘paupers pickles’ – not sure if they were ‘a thing’ or just ‘her thing’. They were so good with home-cooked ham on oven bottom muffins, spread thick with butter! *mouth watering* 🙂

    • That is a great idea to use leftover gherkin vinegar. I was just thinking that I’m not keen on buying white vinegar just for pickling and then having to add stuff as well but that would be a cheaper way to do it and get a jar to do it in as well! Because i don’t even have a jar that I could use for it!thanks.

  19. Do we not need to sterilise the jar then? It’s years since I pickled anything – forgotten how easy and rewarding it is,so thanks for the reminder/idea.

  20. Thank you so the pickles can be eaten after how many days?
    My twelve year old loves experimenting with pickles.. And does it need to go in the fridge?

  21. Wow! Jack. “Saw it in the supermarket last week and just got curious ” Read that again and then
    look back and see how far you have come since starting your blog. You should be really proud of what you have achieved for your self and Small Boy. Congratulations!
    Oh! and I love the pickle recipe. xx

  22. I hope I’m not being a thicky – can you reuse the vinegar? This could be perfect for throwing bit and bobs in after the shop-bought gherkins and pickled onions have been used up. I have some eggs pickling at the moment too – is it safe to pop something else in after?

  23. this looks really good. had no idea one could do this/this easily.

    so, am wondering, does the jar (with pickles in it) need to be sealed, at all, or just a “good” lid?

    also, I expect you have to wait a few days for the flavors to mature?

    also (please excuse the question as it is from one who has never pickled), is this just for raw veg etc? (am assuming cooked will not work?)


  24. Thanks Jack, I was toying with the idea of pickling after watching the Swedish chefs on Masterchef last week and then, what d’you know, your post arrived in my emails. Thanks for making it so easy to give it a go 🙂

  25. I just bravely pickeled 4 sad carrots that had already some green bits growing on their sides in cider vinegar with sugar, salt, some Cajun spice mix and mustard seeds. Then I got into a frenzy and pickeled some sliced onions including their long green shoots with leftover garlic & ginger in malt cinegar, brown sugar, some curry powder, cumin and salt.
    Let’s wait and see.
    Looks lovely so far.

  26. Great – thanks. I may have just drowned them in malt as I didn’t measure it out, just covered a massive jar full a lot of pathetic looking veggies. Excited to try. Thank you 🙂

  27. Sorry to sound dumb. But you eat the veggies? So the sad carrots as mentioned above and the green bits of onion? Once they have been sat in the vinegar?

  28. on the go have
    rhurbarb chuckeny
    preserved Ginger in sherry
    preserved pears
    preserved lemons

    so cheeasy and gets rid of unused fruit etc

  29. Mushrooms sutt’olio, Italians have pickled mushrooms for ever, usually porcine, but I’ve done it with pretty much any kind and they’re amazing.

  30. I love a pickle too and have dabbled with mooli, carrot, cabbage etc. It may taste a bit different but you can pickle veg even more cheaply by just using a salt-water brine. Have a look at lacto fermentation – it works great and is really easy.

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