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Pickling is one of the oldest food preservation methods, dating back to as early as the third century BCE in China. It’s an easy way to preserve your garden or market bounty and add bright, punchy flavors to your plate! It’s a simple process with a few important steps to follow for safe and delicious results. Read on to learn how!
What is pickling?
To pickle a food you must submerge it into an acidic brine that goes through a fermentation process. Acidic brines are made with salt or sugar water, lemon juice, or vinegar. This brine combined with the fermentation process creates a sour flavor and preserves the veggies.
Most pickling recipes require a water bath to ensure proper preservation. Clostridium botulinum (aka botulism) is a common pathogen that can thrive in anaerobic environments, and must be properly cooked and fermented to be destroyed.
Which veggies pickle best? Most of them! However, not every pickled veggie is made the same. All vegetables have a different level of acidity and must be pickled correctly to avoid spoilage or growth of botulism. This guide can help you figure out the best way to pickle your veggies.
What are the health benefits of pickled veggies?
Improved Digestion: Pickled veggies are full of good bacteria, namely probiotics and even some prebiotics, which can heal the gut and improve immunity, skin health, mood, and so much more!
Balanced Blood Sugar: The fiber in many pickled veggies helps sustain energy and reduce blood sugar spikes. The good bacteria can also play a role in managing blood sugar.
Combats Chronic Disease: Eating veggies in any form, whether fresh or pickled, gives you a boost of antioxidants that are helpful for fighting off risk of heart disease, diabetes, or other chronic diseases.
Reduced Muscle Cramps: Electrolyte imbalances are one of the many reasons for muscle cramps and soreness. The mix of sodium from the brine, and potassium and magnesium from the veggies can help your muscles relax.
How do you pickle your own veggies?
There are a number of factors to consider when pickling veggies. Most pickled recipes require a boiling water canner, jars, lids, and wooden spoons/utensils along with the ingredients. Most pickling recipes follow these guidelines:
- Clean the jars! Make sure they are free of bacteria, or the fermentation process will be spoiled.
- Pick out fresh veggies that are blemish-free. Choose veggies fresh from your home garden or from your local farmer’s market.
- Thoroughly wash and slice your fresh veggies into spears or desired shape and size.
- Add your flavors (dill, other spices) into the bottom of your clean jars followed by your fresh cut veggies.
- Add acidic brine and cover all the contents in the jar.
- Tighten the lids to each jar and place in the water canner.
- Boil your jars in a water bath canner - use your recipe guide to help determine how long to boil.
- Let jars ferment for a few weeks and enjoy your fun pickled foods!
Pickling is a great way to preserve your veggies and eat them throughout the year. Make sure to follow a recipe to ensure you are preserving your foods safely, and enjoy the many health and flavor benefits pickled foods can bring to the table!