Why Your Whole Family Will Love Making Pickles
Pickling is an easy and great way to preserve and flavor a huge variety of fruits and vegetables. Not only that, it takes little preparation and is a great family activity. Kids will love adding flavors to the jars and trying out their own recipes. Plus, using this technique, in only three days, they get to enjoy the fruits of their labor!
One thing to remember—when pickling your fresh veggies or fruit, or preserving or fermenting any fruit or veggies, it is important that you follow good sanitation practices.
This can be as easy as taking the time to thoroughly wash your produce as well as washing your jars in the dishwasher in the sanitize cycle, or boiling jars and lids prior to use. Sterilization keeps unwanted bacteria from forming and helps to preserve your delicious pickled produce longer—especially important when canning or preserving your food for an extended period of time.
Canning is a simple process of disinfecting your containers with heat and then heating the contents to prevent any bacteria from growing inside the jars. When capped, the jars then cool, creating a vacuum inside and preserving all that lovely goodness from airborne contaminants.
Although not terribly complex, canning does require a certain amount of time and equipment. You can easily find jars and lids at your local supermarket, Costco or even at thrift stores (always buy new lids as previous ingredients could contaminate your pickling or preserving recipes). You can find other things like a large pot or jar tongs at thrift stores or order them online, often in packages.
To preserve your favorite vegetable or fruit for a shorter time you can use a quick pickling technique. This technique can work on everything from carrots and cucumbers to blueberries and onions. Full Circle-grown pickling cucumbers are now available in Green Grocery. Just add them to your next order!
- Combine 2 parts vinegar (5% acidity, apple cider vinegar works best) to 1 part water; vinegar is the main ingredient in pickling.
- For every cup of vinegar, add 3 tablespoons salt, 1/8 cup sugar and 1/8 cup pickling spices. The salt will help to draw out the moisture of the vegetables and create an environment for beneficial bacteria to grow. The spices will flavor your ingredients.
- Wash the veggies well, then cut them into quarters or halves lengthwise. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sea salt and let sit in a bowl for about 2 hours, then rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Place them in a non-metal bowl.
- Heat liquids to a boil in a non-metal pot. Metal will react with the vinegar and make the pickling solution cloudy. Cloudy solution also indicates freshness. To keep the liquid clear, use a teflon-coated pot to heat them up. Let cool for 5 minutes.
- Pack veggies in a sterilized glass jar and pour pickling solution over them until they are submerged by at least a half an inch.
- Cover with sterilized lids and refrigerate. The vinegar will keep the pickles preserved and fresh for up to three weeks.
Along with pickling spices, you can add other ingredients like garlic cloves, celery leaves, or fresh herbs. Each ingredient will effect the final taste of your pickles. Let your pickles rest for at least three days before eating. This will allow them time to take on the flavor of the brine.
If you’d like to try making your own spices, pickling from scratch or canning your pickles for much later use, try this recipe from Simply Recipes.