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How to Make Pickled Cauliflower or Brussel Sprouts - Easily! With Step-by-step Directions, Photos, Ingredients, Recipe and Costs

Yield: 8 to 10 pint jars

Click here for a PDF print version

Making and canning your own pickled Brussels sprouts or pickled cauliflower is pretty easy with the directions below!


But do note that the vinegar (pickling) is important. There are no recipes or directions for canning Brussels Sprouts from any of the canning authorities (USDA, Ball Blue Book, university food science departments, etc.). One, Michigan State University's extension, provided this explanation: Brussels sprouts are "Not recommended for canning because the processing intensifies strong flavors and discolors the vegetable. Brussels sprouts are much better frozen or pickled. "

If you'd rather freeze the cauliflower or Brussels Sprouts, see this page.



  • 12 cups of 1- to 2-inch cauliflower flowerets or small Brussels sprouts
  • 4 cups white vinegar (5 percent)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 1 cup diced sweet red peppers
  • 2 tbsp mustard seed
  • 1 tbsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp hot red pepper flakes


  • 1 water bath canner (a huge pot with a lifting rack to sanitize the jars of applesauce after filling (about $30 to $35 at mall kitchen stores and local "big box" stores, but it's usually cheaper online from our affiliates) You CAN use a large pot instead, but the canners are deeper, and have a rack top make lifting the jars out easier. If you plan on canning every year, they're worth the investment.
  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)
  • Lid lifter (I like the lid rack that holds 12 lids or you can pull them out one at a time with the lid-lifter that has a magnet from the almost-boiling water where you sanitize them. ($4 at mall kitchen stores and local "big box" stores, but it's usually cheaper online from our affiliates)
  • Jar funnel ($4 at mall kitchen stores and local "big box" stores, but it's usually cheaper online from our affiliates)
  • At least 1 large pot (at least 8-quart size or larger)
  • Large spoons and ladles,
  • Canning jars (often called Ball jars, Mason jars or Kerr jars) (Publix, Kroger, other grocery stores and some "big box" stores carry them - now about $12 per dozen quart jars (up 50% in 2 years!) including the lids and rings)

Directions - Step by Step

Step 1 - Wash the Brussels Sprouts or Cauliflower

Wash the cauliflower flowerets or brussel sprouts (removing stems and blemished outer leaves)

Step 2  - Get the jars and lids sanitizingSanitizing canning jars in the dishwasher

The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle.  I get that going while I'm preparing everything else, so it's done by the time I'm ready to fill the jars.  If you don't have a dishwasher, submerge the jars in a large pot (the canner itself) of water and bring it to a boil.Sterilizing jars

Be sure to let it go through the rinse cycle to get rid of any soap!

Get the canner heating up

Fill the canner about 1/2 full of water and start it heating (with the lid on).


Start the water for the lids

Warming lids in steaming hot waterPut the lids into the small pot of boiling water for at least several minutes.  Note: everything gets sanitized in the water bath (step 7) anyway, so this just helps to ensure there is no spoilage later!)

Canning jars
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Step 3 - Blanch (boil)

Boil the veggies in salt water (4 tsp canning salt per gallon of water) for 3 minutes for cauliflower and 4 minutes for brussel sprouts. This is called blanching; it stops the enzymes and kills bacteria, both of which can degrade flavor during storage.

Step 4 - Drain and cool.

Just drain them and cool them in ice water for about 10 minutes.

Step 5 - Mix the pickling solution

Combine the vinegar, sugar, onions, diced red pepper, and spices in large saucepan.

Step 6 - Heat the pickling solution

Bring the liquid to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

Step 7 - Fill the jars

Distribute the Brussels sprouts (or cauliflower) onion and diced pepper among jars. Fill jars with pieces and pickling solution, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.

Step 8 - Process (boil the jars in the water bath canner)

Put the jars in the canner and keep them covered with at least 1 inch of water. Keep the water boiling. Boil them for 10 minutes (or as directed by the table below if your altitude is greater than 1,000 ft). 





Adjust lids and process according to the table below:

Recommended process time for Pickled Cauliflower or Brussel Sprouts in a boiling-water canner.
  Process Time at Altitudes of
Allowed Jar Sizes 0 - 1,000 ft 1,001 - 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Half-pints or Pints 10 minutes 15 minutes 20 minutes

Step 9 - Done

Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight)  You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok.

When can you start eating the pickles?  Well, it takes some time for the seasonings to be absorbed into the pickles.  That's at least 24 hours, but for best flavor wait 2 weeks!  Ah... the wait...

This document was adapted from the "Complete Guide to Home Canning," Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539, USDA, revised 2009.

Reviewed November 2009.




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