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Pickled Cauliflower


I absolutely love sour things. I’ve been known to suck on a lemon slice once in a while, just for kicks (though my dentist scolded me for doing it, so I reluctantly put the habit to rest). When it comes to pickles, I’m a full-sour kinda gal. None of that dill or bread-n-butter stuff; I like’em super super sour. I’m into cucumber pickles, but I can’t say that they’re my favorite — not by a long shot. No, my absolute favorite pickle is a pickled green tomato, especially if it’s from Guss’ Pickles on the Lower East Side. My first time at Guss’ was on an 8th grade class trip, when we stopped there very briefly on our way back from grabbing knishes, bialys, deli, and other LES specialties. I remember watching friends get themselves just one pickle, or two. When I looked deep into the plastic tub in front of me and saw green tomato quarters, bobbing up and down in the brine, I knew that’s what I had to have. Sadly, Guss didn’t sell the tomatoes by the single back then — only by the pound. Obviously, I bought myself a pound of pickled green tomatoes. Reluctant to waste, I ate them all. Boy were they good.


Not to dismiss cukes, but compared to the tomatoes and other exotic pickled things, they’re kind of ordinary. I can promise you that this cauliflower recipe is anything but. I originally published this recipe in an article I did for My Jewish Learning on Israeli Independence Day, but these sour, cardamom-spiked florets are great year-round.


Before I send you off with this recipe, I want to just make note of a couple housekeeping items: first, I finally figured out how to set up comment threads, so now we can all respond to each other’s comments, which is very exciting for me, since I’ve been wondering how to do it for almost two years.

Second, the link to my current coveted cookbook, Bittersweet, was apparently taking everyone to my last coveted cookbook, A Platter of Figs. That’s a great cookbook — but so is Bittersweet, so now the link works.

Lastly, can you hang in there for a weekend? I’m away for a couple days, but I’ll be back Sunday with more delicious things to make and eat…

Pickled Cauliflower

update: thanks to reader Rachel who pointed out that the recipe should read 3 TEASPOONS salt and not 3 Tablespoons. Egad! Sorry, Rachel!
3 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. white mustard seeds
½ tsp. cumin seeds
½ tsp. celery seeds, optional
3 bay leaves
Pinch cayenne pepper, optional
1 head cauliflower, washed and separated into florets
1 large carrot, sliced into thick chunks
½ a small yellow onion, sliced into half-moons
1 ½ cups white wine or plain white vinegar
3 tbsp. sugar
3 tsp. kosher salt

Bring a 2-quart saucepan of salted water to a boil. Boil the cauliflower and carrots for 3 minutes; drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add the onion and stir to combine.
In a large sealable container (canning jars will work, but are not required if you plan to eat the salad soon and store in the fridge), add half the total amount of each spice (not including the sugar and salt). If dividing the salad among several jars, divide half the total amount of each spice among the jars, saving the other half to top the vegetables.
Add the vegetables into the container(s), leaving about ¾ ” of space at the top of each container.
In a 4-quart saucepan, bring 2 cups water and all the sugar and salt to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally until fully dissolved. Add vinegar and stir to combine.

Pour the vinegar solution into the container(s), leaving ½” of space below each rim. Close or seal container(s) and transfer to the refrigerator. Allow to marinate at least 24 hours before serving; the longer you wait, the better.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Rachel B. May 28, 2009,

    That sounds sooo good! I have 2 heads of cauliflower in my fridge; maybe I”ll make it if I have time before candlelighting tonight. It would go well with my borsht!

    I am with you on the sour stuff. My 18-month-old will also happily suck on a lemon.

  • Sylvie May 28, 2009,

    I’ll have to show this to my friend. Like you she loves pickled anything!

  • Susan K May 28, 2009,

    want to make this immediately…

  • Juliana June 1, 2009,

    Wow, just to look at your pockles my mouth is watering…pickles…yummie! Great pictures.

  • simon June 2, 2009,

    Looks great. The best way to eat cauliflower. I’ve been making something similar but without the spices. I’m looking forward to trying it.

  • Aliza S. June 2, 2009,

    They look fantastic! I’m a huge fan of pickled things – but more on the dill/salty side. I recently made a for of pickled beets and loved them.

    • rivka June 4, 2009,

      Yes! I need to make pickled beets one of these days. Was addicted to them in Israel but fell off/forgot about them since I got back — good call.

  • Julia June 8, 2009,

    I just made this and had a little extra that didn’t fit into my jars… if it tastes that good after 5 minutes, I can’t imagine what it will be like after 24 hours! I simplified this further, using pre-mixed pickling spices and turmeric. Thanks for letting me know how easy this is to make!