Preserving Basics: Pickling

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There are two ways to preserve vegetables – ferment or pickle. I’ve played around with them a bit, and much prefer the taste of the (sweet) pickle.

Mushrooms!

The basic idea is the same for all – heat the pickle mix until the sugar is dissolved, then pour over vegetables in clean Mason jars. I like to cook mushrooms in the vinegar a bit first, unless they are sliced.

Go to town – try carrot, green beans, cauliflower, mushrooms, zucchini, chillis… whatever!

Ingredients: Vinegar Brine option 1
2 cups apple cider vinegar (or other vinegar)
2 cups water
1½ cups white sugar (cut back if you want to)
2 TB pickling spices (peppercorns, whole allspice, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, dill seeds, dried chilli… whatever!)
4-8 cloves, whole
1 cinnamon quill
4-6 smashed garlic cloves
2 TB kosher salt (or 1 TB pickling salt)

Ingredients: Vinegar Brine option 2
2 cups of any vinegar
1 cup water
1 cups white sugar (cut back if you want to)
1 ts mustard seeds
½ ts cumin seeds
1 ts turmeric
2 TB kosher salt (or 1 TB pickling salt)

Ingredients: Vinegar Brine option 3 – trialling January 2021 – this is for my notes!
6 cups of white vinegar
5 cups white sugar (cut back if you want to)
2 cups water
8-10 bay leaves (depending on the size)
2 TB yellow mustard seeds
1 TB black peppercorns
½ TB dill seeds
½ TB coriander seeds
½ TB whole cloves
½ TB whole allspice
½ TB fennel seeds
3 cinnamon quills

Ingredients: Vegetables
Vegetables for pickling
…My favourites for shoving into jars and covering with hot liquid include cucumbers, green beans, radish (3mm slices), zucchini (5mm slices), cauliflower, sliced chillis
…My favourites for cooking at least partway in the vinegar mix include shredded cabbage (plainer brine with caraway seeds), mushrooms (the baby kings are divine!), beetroot (5mm slices), carrot sticks

Onion, sliced
Garlic, smashed or sliced cloves
Bay leaves
Dill and more dill with emergency backup dill (did I mention I’m Latvian?)

Equipment
Jars – lots of them! A canning funnel and tongs are useful tools. A large stockpot helps with boiling many jars at once.

Method
1 – Sterilise the jars – boiling in water is easiest. Dry upside down on a clean tea-towel.

2 – Add brine ingredients to a saucepan and heat until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Simmer for a couple of minutes.

3 – Prepare the vegetables. Pack into prepared jars with aromatics – onion slices, chilli, dill (flowers are best if you can get them), garlic, mustard seeds.

4 – Pour the hot brine into the jars, leaving just over 1cm at the top. Use glass weights to keep floating ingredients submerged.

5 – Seal the jars – finger-tight. Let cool before you refrigerate them. The flavour will deepen over time.

Store leftover vinegar in bottles and add to the next batch.