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How to make a Guatemalan Curtido Recipe

This Guatemalan curtido recipe is quick and easy. Pickled vegetables, called curtido are traditionally eaten during Easter week. For a spicier pickle, try these pickled banana peppers.

Curtido de Guatemala in a glass bowl

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Guatemalan curtido recipe

This vinegary blend of pickled vegetables with the slightest bit of sweetness is known as curtido. It is easy to make, which is good, because that need for a vinegary bite of something strikes me fairly often. 

There are many varieties of this refrigerator pickle and everyone puts their own spin on it. I tried to go as traditional as possible here, so you would get the truest sense of this dish.

curtido Guatemalteco de vegetales
Curtido salad ready for the fridge

Curtido is typically eaten around Easter week or Semana Santa and it is eaten on Guatemalan enchiladas. They are similar to what most people know as a tostada if we are comparing it to typical Mexican food you would find at a Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurant.

That being said, you don’t have to wait until Easter to make or devour this.  

Guatemalan curtido recipe in glass bowl

I can eat them on their own, but the vegetables are delicious on a sandwich made on a crusty roll (think giardiniera), sprinkled on top of your salad for a little extra punch, or eaten alongside a bit of braised meat as the vinegar helps balance out the fat and richness.

How to make curtido

First, you’ll need to chop up the vegetables and cook them in simmering water for a few minutes just to soften them.

Ingredients for Guatemalan curtido recipe

Next, you’ll want to set up an ice bath, like the one pictured below, so you can cool the veggies down. This stops the cooking process immediately as soon as they are plunged into the cold water.

vegetables in ice bath

Use a spider strainer to remove them from the water and set aside to drain on clean kitchen towels.

After the vegetables have all been softened, all that’s left is mixing everything together in a big bowl.

guatemalan curtido in mixing bowl

The pickled vegetables really need a couple of days to reach maximum deliciousness, I usually take the containers out and give them a little upside down shake whenever I think of it so everyone gets their turn in the vinegar bath.  

How long does curtido last in the fridge?

This curtido salad will stay perfectly fine in the refrigerator for a few weeks, that is if it lasts that long.

I don’t process these for canning, I pack them into quart containers (the kind you get at the deli or from take-out) and store them in the back of the fridge.  

Overnight, the vegetables will take on the shocking pink color from the beets and the red onion. The longer they sit, the deeper the color will become.

If you prefer your vegetables less vinegary, you can reduce the amount of vinegar by a half cup or so and replace with the same amount of water.

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Yield: 4 quarts

Pickled Vegetables

Pickled Vegetables

This Guatemalan curtido recipe is a delicious blend of pickled vegetables.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 medium sized beets
  • 6 medium carrots, peeled and diced - 2 1/2 cups
  • 1/2 head medium sized green cabbage, finely shredded - 6 - 7 cups
  • 1 1/2 cups green beans, cut into 1 in pieces
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, broken into small pieces - 2 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 medium red onion, very thinly sliced
  • salt to taste
  • 2 TB dried oregano
  • 1 TB dried thyme
  • 3 TB sugar
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Wrap beets in aluminum foil and set on a baking pan. Roast for 60 minutes, or until a knife easily pierces the beet. Set aside to cool.
  2. While beets are cooling, put on a pot of salted water and bring to a simmer. While you are waiting for the water to come to a simmer, prepare the ice bath: fill a large bowl with cold water and ice. Set aside.
  3. Add green beans, peas and shredded cabbage to the simmering water and cook for 4 minutes. Remove from water with a slotted spoon or a spider (don't throw out the water) and plunge the bean mixture into the ice bath.
  4. Add carrots and cook for 5 minutes, then add cauliflower to the carrots. Let them cook for a few minutes more until softened. The goal is to soften the vegetables, they should still have a little resistance when you bite them. When carrot and cauliflower mixture is to your liking, drain and add to ice bath.
  5. Remove all the vegetables from the water and set aside on clean kitchen towels to drain completely.
  6. When beets have cooled enough to handle, peel them by rubbing the outside with your hands or a paper towel and the skins will slip right off. (I suggest wearing gloves while you do this, otherwise your hands will be purple for a week!)
  7. Dice the beets into small pieces, and add all of the vegetables to a large, non-aluminum bowl. Add the oregano, vinegars, sugar and 1 - 2 teaspoons of salt, mix to combine and refrigerate.
  8. Stir vegetable mixture after an hour or so to ensure everything has soaked in the vinegar.
  9. Taste vegetables and adjust seasoning if needed. Stir again, pack into containers and refrigerate.

Notes

When dicing your vegetables, try to keep everything a similar size. This makes for a better bite. You can get more of everything in one bite instead of large chunks.

Some people prefer to boil the beets, but I find roasting them makes them sweeter and much more delicious.

The flavors will develop overnight and it will be ready to devour the next day, but if you can wait an extra day, you will be rewarded with even tastier pickled vegetables.

This recipe yields approximately 4 quarts (which is A LOT), so you'll have enough to share with friends, or you can halve the recipe for a smaller quantity.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

16

Serving Size:

1 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 61Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 75mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 3gSugar: 7gProtein: 2g

Nutrition information calculated by a third-party company as a courtesy. It is intended as a guideline only.

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Originally published 2/11/16, most recent update 3/31/21.

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