Vivian's Quick Pickle Brine


A brine can be as simple as equal parts vinegar and water, but for exceptional pickles you want to add seasoning. This brine recipe lets you mix and match whole spices, ground spices, heat givers, fresh herbs and aromatics however suits your fancy. Be sure to make enough liquid to cover everything in your jar--and remember that any vinegars you swap in have to be 5% acidity or greater (it's indicated on the label) to ensure a proper pickle.

Prep Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
15 mins
3 pints


Basic Brine

  • 2 cups white, red-wine or cider vinegar

  • 2 cups water

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons white sugar

Seasonings (mix & match, using the amount specified or less)

  • 1 teaspoon whole spices, such as celery seed, coriander seed, cumin seed, dill seed, fennel seed, mustard seed, bay leaves, allspice, cinnamon, star anise

  • 1 teaspoon heat givers, such as crushed red pepper, Szechuan peppercorns (black, white, pink), fresh hot peppers (jalapeños, Fresno chiles, cayenne)

  • 1 teaspoon ground spices, such as ginger, mustard, paprika, turmeric

  • 2 sprigs fresh herbs, such as basil, chervil, dill, mint, rosemary, sage, thyme

  • 1 piece per jar fresh aromatics, such as garlic cloves, ginger, citrus zest


  1. Bring vinegar, water, salt, sugar and seasonings (as desired) to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

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