Pickling is a food preparation technique which utilizes vinegar or brine to store or preserve food for a longer period of time (read more here). It’s a great option for homesteaders as it enables you to store home grown veggies out of season and is especially useful if you grow more than your family can consume. The aim of pickling is to reduce the likelihood of bacteria contaminating the food, enhancing the taste to suit individual preferences and maintaining the quality.
Contrary to popular belief, pickling is not only limited to cucumbers. Many types of vegetables can be pickled including: Squash, Sweet Peppers, Asparagus, Cauliflower, Onions, Avocado, Tomatoes, Carrots, Okra, Parsnips, Radishes & Beets.
The pickling of vegetable is relatively easy; the process is almost as simple as marinating. Pickling does not require too many ingredients, in fact, the only ingredients required are; Water, Salt, Sugar, Vinegar and spices of your choice.
Below I will explain step by step how to pickle any vegetable of your choice:
- Use one part purified water to one part vinegar as the base. You may opt for the traditional white vinegar, Apple Cider Vinegar or Wine Vinegar, however I suggest Vinegars with a concentration of acetic acid below 5% . You should also avoid using unfiltered or impure water as this may interfere with the colour of the vegetables over a period of time.
- Add pure sea salt and/or sugar using a ratio that is suitable to your taste. For a savory pickle, it is ideal to forgo the sugar.
- Before marinating, the vegetables must first be diced or cut into smaller portions to facilitate the equal absorption of the brine throughout the mixture. You may choose to cut the vegetables in your preferred shape.
- To enhance the taste and texture of some vegetables, scalding is recommended after dicing or slicing. Example of such vegetables include; Okra, ginger, peppers, brussel sprouts and carrots.
- After scalding, draining and cooling the vegetables, they should be placed in a mason jar.
- Add spices of your choice to suit your personal taste. Popular options include; ginger, jalapeno, oregano, chilli flakes, dill, cumin, mustard and turmeric.
- Pour the brine in the mason jar containing the vegetables.
To increase the longevity of your pickles, they should be stored in the refrigerator with the lids tightly closed. Pickled veggies can be used in a wide range of dishes in a similar way to fresh vegetables. They also make lovely homemade gifts!