Pickling boosts the flavor and crispy texture of cauliflower with a vinegar-based brine customized to your liking, whether that's hot and spicy, sweet and sour or heavy on fresh herbs. You can pickle cauliflower by traditional canning or by simply boiling a pickling solution, pouring it over the prepared cauliflower and storing the mixture in the refrigerator. Canned pickled cauliflower lasts longer and doesn't require refrigeration, but the process takes more time and may be a better choice if you plan to pickle large amounts of vegetables.
Prepare the Cauliflower
Wash the cauliflower under running water. Remove and discard any discolored portions.
Dry the cauliflower with paper towels or dish cloths. Use a sharp knife to cut off the stem and any outer leaves. Discard.
Cut the cauliflower into florets, each measuring approximately 1 to 2 inches long.
Canned Pickled Cauliflower
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Stir in 4 teaspoons of canning salt for every gallon of water.
Put the cauliflower florets into the boiling water. Allow to cook for 3 minutes.
Drain the cauliflower. Place the florets into a bowl of ice water for 10 minutes. Drain again.
Divide the cauliflower evenly between sterilized canning jars. Leave 1/2 inch headspace.
Prepare the pickling brine by combining vinegar, sugar, seasonings and thinly sliced vegetables such as onions and red peppers, if desired, into a saucepan. Use one part sugar to every two parts of vinegar and about one and one-half parts additional vegetables, if using. Experiment with your choice of herbs and spices, or use traditional seasonings such as celery seed, mustard seed, red pepper flakes and turmeric.
Heat the brine to boiling. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to remove vegetables from the brine, if you've used them. Divide them between the jars of cauliflower.
Pour an equal amount of hot brine into each jar. Leave 1/2 inch headspace. Make certain that all of the cauliflower is fully covered with liquid.
Put the lids and screw bands of each jar in place. Process in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes.
Remove the hot jars with tongs. Cool briefly and remove or loosen the screw bands of each. Leave to cool overnight.
Push down on the center of each jar's lid to ensure that it is sealed. Watch for jars with lids that move up or down or that make a popping sound. These jars aren't properly sealed. Remove the contents and re-can or keep them refrigerated and use promptly.
Store properly canned pickled cauliflower in a cool, dry location. Wait at least 24 hours before serving.
Refrigerator Pickled Cauliflower
Blanch, steam or lightly roast the cauliflower florets, if desired.
Put the florets into canning jars or heat-proof containers that have tightly fitting lids.
Combine vinegar, water, sugar, kosher salt and seasonings like fresh or dried herbs, spices or garlic. Use one part sugar to two parts each of vinegar and water. Every pound of cauliflower requires approximately 1 cup each vinegar and water, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon of salt.
Boil the pickling solution. Divide it equally between the jars or containers of cauliflower.
Put the lids in place. Cool and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.
You can use distilled white vinegar, apple cider vinegar or apple cider-flavored distilled vinegar to pickle cauliflower, but avoid flavored or wine vinegars such as balsamic or white wine vinegar. These types of vinegar may not contain enough acetic acid to pickle properly.
Discard any pickled cauliflower that has an unpleasant taste or odor, or that begins to change color or develop dark, cloudy patches in the brine solution.
Do not substitute table salt for canning or kosher salt. Table salt may contain additives that can cause the brine to become cloudy.