Like I said the Autumn season is fast approaching and a lot of us are harvesting our fruits and veggies from our gardens. For me the process starts in the spring when I am gathering seeds to plant in my garden. Most of my planning revolves around the things that I want to pickle in 5 to 6 months so I can have snack foods and condiments that will last throughout the winter months.
Like most things that we cook, they take time and practice to perfect whatever it is you are preparing. I have made many mistakes with this process so hopefully with my knowledge I am going to share with you, you can skip the headaches and get right to the fun parts. I have people come into either my professional kitchen or my home kitchen and they tease me about all of the different pickles I have laying around. I get teased when shopping and a very common phrase that I will say is “I’m going to pickle that.” It goes on and on until they begin to taste dishes that I have created with my pickles layered in the mix somewhere. The lift that they can give any dish is quite incredible and once I share this with you I am certain you will be following my footsteps and trying this on everything you can get your hands on.
I could get into many different methods of pickling but I do not want to bore you with a long drawn out blog with this. This process is so simple that it will surprise you of how little effort it takes in order to have perfect pickles every time.
As I said before, I am going to teach you how to cook without recipes so I am going to give you guidelines to follow and let you choose your own adventure.
Let’s start with the brine. The ingredients you decide to pickle will be sitting in this solution until you decide to use them and the flavor you put in this will be gently absorbed into them. The possibilities are endless so once you have a base I encourage you to run with experiments.
- 1 part vinegar, white wine/red wine/apple cider for example
- Pickling salt
- 2 parts water
- aromatics, garlic/ginger/thyme/rosemary/dill/lemon/limes/oranges
- something to pickle
- add everything except what you are pickling into a pot and bring to a boil
- prepare what you are pickling and place into the vessels you will be pickling into, most likely jars
- pour the boiling brine until the soon to be pickles are covered
- put lids on so that they are NOT tight
- place in fridge until cool and then firmly tighten the lids
Okay I know that seemed vague but I will settle your questions here in short form.
First off it is important to balance the flavor to your liking.
Choose a vinegar that has flavor such as apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar and avoid using plain white vinegar. Honestly I only use plain white vinegar for cleaning.
Take your vinegar and pour it into your pot
A good starting point for water is add double the amount of water to vinegar. It should be tart or acidic. If it is still very unpleasant than add more water.
now simply add your aromatics and spices such as pickling spice, garlic, lemon, lime, orange and herbs.
depending on what your final result is expected to be will determine how much salt and sugar to add. If you want sweet pickles add more sugar and less salt and vice versa. Remember it is always best to add less and bring it up to where you want as apposed to adding to much and having to start over
There are many different variations and methods to pickling but what I am giving you here is a starting point to work from.
Think of this like the base to a pyramid. The larger the base (your knowledge) the higher the peak will be.
The reason I have chosen to share this particular method with you is because I like my pickles to have a bite or in other words to be crunchy. Soft mushy vegetables are something that I am not a fan. By doing your pickling this way will allow you to not over cook the ingredients.
This is a stepping stone and I will get into some more advanced techniques in a future blog so stay tuned and happy pickling