You can pickle just about anything that you can grow, and some things you can’t grow!
Generally pickles are a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Calcium and Iron. Nearly fifty percent of all cucumbers grown in the United States are pickled. And while a pickle is a cucumber, any vegetable or fruit can be pickled. With a simple brine, you can pickle fruits, eggs, meats, and really just about anything if you are adventurous enough. Paula has been known to pickle everything from Watermelon Rind to Okra. One of her favorite Gifts From The Kitchen is a jar of Pickled Shrimp all wrapped up with a pretty bow and presented in a handmade sweetgrass basket.
Of all the canning projects, pickling is the easiest. True pickling is the process of preserving food by anaerobic fermentation in a brine (a solution of salt and water) or marinating and storing it in an acid solution (usually vinegar). Since it’s a high acid process, it’s very difficult to mess up.
“From vine to brine in less than 12 hours” is the rule of thumb for home pickling. This brine is so simple to make and can be made in large volumes so you can pickle as you pick those young tender carrots, baby cucumbers, okra and green beans. Add a slice of garlic (like Paula’s Garlic Pickled Carrots) or a dried hot chili for an extra flavor pop!
You’ll find a lot of ways to utilize pickled vegetables from your garden. They make a wonderful gift for your friends, family and neighbors. Nothing is more appreciated than a basket of homemade preserves, condiments and pickles because of the love that went into making them.
Paula’s Basic Brine Recipe and Pickling Directions
Yields 3 pints:
2 1/2 pounds freshly picked vegetable of similar size, washed and vine-end trimmed
2 cups distilled white vinegar
2 cups water
1/4 cup canning salt (Kosher salt or sea salt)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced in half
1 bunch dill weed divided into 3
3 tiny red chile peppers or 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes in each jar
•Sterilize 3 pint jars with rings and lids. Keep warm. Cut vegetables to 1/2 inch shorter than the jar.
•Drop a chile and a garlic into each jar. Arrange cut vegetables in jar with cut ends toward the top, packing beans in fairly tight so they won’t float up to the lid.
•Tuck dill weed into the center of the beans.
•In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine vinegar, water and salt. Bring to a boil and stir until salt is dissolved
•Pour boiling brine over vegetables up to 1/4-inch from top of jar. Wipe the lip of the jar and seal with lid and ring.
•Let rest in a draft-free area. Vegetables will ferment in the refrigerator in about 2 weeks.
•For longer storage, place hot jars into a boiling water bath with 1 inch of water covering the tops. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove to a draft-free area and once cooled check that lids have properly sealed. If the lids do not spring back when pressed they are sealed. Refrigerate any jars that have not sealed.
•Store sealed jars in cool, dark pantry for 1 year or longer.
Need more canning inspiration? Check out Home Canning 101 with step by step images and plenty of recipes!