Although recipes vary, most pickling recipes call for vinegar, salt, firming agents and flavoring. The ingredients required depend on the pickling method selected, such as the dry-salt method, fermenting, processing and packing, or fresh packing.
Vinegar is essential to the pickling process. Vinegar used in pickling should be 4 to 6 percent acidic. Most modern pickling recipes call for pickling solutions made from one part vinegar and one part water.
Pickling recipes call for pickling salt, dairy salt or kosher salt. Iodized or table salt is not appropriate for pickling foods and can affect the quality of the pickled food. Firming agents, such as pickling lime, grape leaves and alum, keep pickled items from turning soft.