How To Pickle Vegetables

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. After scalding, draining and cooling the vegetables, they should be placed in a mason jar.
  6. Add spices of your choice to suit your personal taste. Popular options include; ginger, jalapeno, oregano, chilli flakes, dill, cumin, mustard and turmeric.
  7. 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!

Why keep chickens?

For most people, eggs are the main motivator when it comes to keeping chickens. Not only are eggs loaded with protein, they also contain good fats, all the essential amino acids as well as micronutrients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Selenium. Eggs are delicious and can be prepared in countless different ways. They are also used as a binding agent in baked products and are an essential part of most homesteaders life. Homesteaders aren’t the only ones keeping chickens, over the past few years there have been increasing numbers of people keeping backyard chickens. Here’s a list of the most common reasons why more people are choosing to rear chickens:

  1. For those of us who only consume fresh, organic or cruelty-free food, rearing chickens to produce eggs may be one of the best options out there. You will have peace of mind knowing that the chicken has not suffered to produce the egg. You will also have control over how the chicken is fed thus determining how organic the eggs are. Commercially raised chickens are caged and fed non-organic food.
  2. A combination of chicken poo and eggshell provides fertilization to backyard farms. The presence of Nitrates is an essential component of manure. Chicken poo is extremely rich in nitrates. You should expect to see a reduction in the amount of fertilizers used on a yearly basis.
  3. Chicken by nature will oftentimes dig through piles of compost in pursuit of finding bugs and worms to consume. The process of turning your composting can be labor-intensive and time consuming. Having chickens can save you money that would have been spent hiring help.
  4. Chickens feeding on bugs and insects act as your personal pest control team! These protein-rich bugs can be devastating to farmlands however they are simply a healthy snack for the chickens!
  5. Your kids will adore them! Chickens aren’t often viewed as social creatures, however after spending a great deal of time around them, you will learn more about their behavior and how they function amongst one another. Free educational lesson for the kids!

Chickens are relatively easy to keep and maintain. After the initial investment, the only expenses incurred are food and water. They mostly consume scraps of leftover food, therefore you don’t have to spend excessively on chicken feed and if you choose the right breeds they produce a good haul of eggs day in and day out.