Fresh Picked, Fresh Preserved
Pickles are tangy, tasty condiments that spruce up sandwiches, an olive or cheese platter. Or simply just eat them out of hand! Preserving fresh produce was, for many centuries, a way to have access to fruits and vegetables long after the harvest was over. The earliest forms of pickling were done simply with salt.
Vinegar has a high acid content which kills bacteria. That’s why it’s now a standard for food preservation in the United States while lemon or lime juice is often used in the Middle East or South Asia. In East Asia, quick pickled vegetables that combine salt, sugar, and rice vinegar are a great alternative to a green salad.
Whatever your pickling preference go for the freshest produce you can find. Don’t use fruit or vegetables that are soft or beginning to spoil. Your pickles will only be as good as your starting product.
To Can, or Not To Can?
Canning, or picking under heat and pressure, is historically a tried and true method. And it’s still widely used today–both at home and, of course, in mass manufacture. But it takes a little finesse to get the hand of this method and can be dangerous if you get it wrong. Poorly canned foods can harbor bacteria growth like botulinum which causes botulism. You can read all about techniques for safe canning in this publication by the USDA.
Salt or hot vinegar pickling with refrigeration is an easy way to make your own pickles without the worry and effort of canning. Furthermore you can try this out with our recipes below!
Whichever way you choose to pickle, remember to be creative. Virtually any crunchy vegetable is excellent for pickling–hot peppers, carrots, cauliflower, garlic, onions, and more. In some cultures, even fruit is up for grabs–such as Indian lime pickle or the “chows” you often find in the Caribbean. Pineapple chow is one good example that also exists in the American South.
Try these recipes!