Cooking Tips | 2 September 2016Everything You Need to Know About Pickling Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Are you new to pickling? It’s way easier than you’d think! From ingredients, to tools, to the process itself, here’s some expert info from The Quick Pickle Cookbook that will help you figure out where to get started. INGREDIENTS Salt: Some picklers insist on using pickling salt (pure sodium chloride) in their recipes because it doesn’t contain additives such as potassium iodide, dextrose, and calcium silicate (an anti-caking agent which can sometimes make the brine cloudy). Pickling salt is not widely available and sometimes needs to be ordered online. ?e recipes in this book all use kosher salt, which is readily available and doesn’t have additives. I like Diamond Crystal, and I tested the recipes with it. Vinegar: Most commercial vinegars have acidity levels of 5 to 7 percent, which is perfect for pickling. For many of the recipes here, I’ve used distilled white vinegar. It’s colorless and the flavor is neutral, so it doesn’t compete with the aromatic spices and ?fruit and vegetables. I also like cider vinegar for pickling for its ?fruity flavor. Some recipes call for balsamic vinegar and white balsamic vinegar. Th?e flavor is lovely and perfectly agro dolce (sweet and sour). I call for regular balsamic for a dark er brine and white balsamic for a lighter brine. It’s purely visual. One thing, though, don’t waste your money on an expensive, aged balsamic vinegar for pickling—it’s be?er suited to finishing a dish. Red and white wine vinegars tend to be aged a bit and lend a bold and complex flavor. Rice vinegar is mild and mellow, and at 3 percent acidity it’s not acidic enough on its own to use as a pickling brine. If you want to use rice vinegar, you can use equal parts rice and distilled white vinegar to raise the acidity level. Aromatics: Aromatics fall into two types—fresh herbs and dried spices. In both cases, larger is beer. For fresh herbs such as dill, tarragon, basil, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, oregano, kefir lime leaves, and lemongrass, whole sprigs or large leaves are beer than chopped because they look pretty and are easy to pick around. Spices, too, are beer whole for a slightly different reason—ground spices make the brine look a bit murky. Some perennial pickling favorites are whole mustard seeds (yellow, brown, or black), coriander seeds, celery seeds, allspice berries, cloves, dill seeds, peppercorns, fennel seeds, caraway, dried red chiles, and whole cinnamon sticks. I also love fenugreek, nigella, cardamom, star anise, and saff?ron. In several fruit pickle recipes I wanted a clear brine with lots of ?flavor but no aromatics to pick out. For those, I steeped whole spices in the brine then strained it into the jars. Produce: Always look for the freshest fruits and vegetables—ripe but firm—with no blemishes or mold. Wash well. For cucumbers, kirbies are best but they are not always available year-round. If I’m jonesing for Killer Diller Pickles in the o -season, Persian cucumbers work pretty well. Be sure to trim a thin sliver om the ends of cucumbers. ?e blossoms contain enzymes that make the pickles especially so? if not removed. PROCESS Equipment Jars: Unless you plan to process your pickles for storing at room temperature, you can use an y type of jar as long as it’s very clean and the lid is not rusting or pi?ed. Jars and lids should be washed in hot soapy water or, be?er yet, run through the dish washer. Pots, utensils, and bowls: ?e acid in vinegar reacts with certain metals such as aluminum, cast-iron (without enamel coating), and unlined copper pots. Th?ese will leach a metallic flavor into the pickles. Stainless steel, enamel- or ceramic-coated, and glass are all fine choices. ?e same goes for spoons, ladles, bowls, sieves, and funnels. I’ve been using the same wooden spoon for more than twenty years and, though it can sometimes take on flavors of previous dishes, it’s not dangerous. Knives and slicers: A sharp knife is not only a chef’s best ?friend, it’s her safest one. More mishaps happen with dull knives because you apply more pressure when chopping. Make sure your knives are sharp and clean—you’ll get be?er, more even, slices. I have a very old, beautiful French mandolin ?from my brother that has sat in a drawer unused (by me) for more than twenty years. It’s big and clunky and hard to keep sharp. I much prefer less expensive plastic Japanese slicers or V -slicers for their simplicity, ease, accuracy, and perfect slices. Method – The Process of Making Refrigerator Pickles Couldn’t Be Simpler • Pack clean jars with spices and produce, then pour boiling brine (a solution of vinegar, water, salt, and sugar) into the jars. Close the lid, cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight. • I steep whole spices in the brine and strained them out for several of the fruit pickles. • For sliced cucumbers, watermelon rind, eggplant, and sliced green tomatoes, I toss them with salt and let them sit for an hour to leach out bitterness and remove some of the liquid. en I soak them in ice water for ten minutes to re-crisp them and remove some of the salt. is really helps keep them crisp in the jar. Storange and Yield • Refrigerator pickles are kept in the fridge, where they can be safely stored for a few weeks or even as long as several months. It’s pretty rare for refrigerator pickles to spoil, but it can happen. Botulism is more of a concern in processed pickles than in refrigerator pickles. Low acidity and salt, and temperatures above 50°F (10°C) breed bacterial growth, so make sure the acidity of your vinegar is at least 5 percent and your fridge is at or below 40°F (4°C). Don’t be tempted to cut back on the salt or vinegar in the recipes. • Because these are small-batch pickles that live in the fridge, the yields are usually 1 to 2 pints (475 to 950 ml) so as not to take up so much space. All of the recipes can easily be doubled, but they should be stored in the fridge, given as gi?fts right away, or processed for shelf stability. You can check the National Center for Home Food Preservation (hp://nchfp.uga.edu/index.html) for directions. Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: Make your own quick and delicious brines for pickling or cooking. The Quick Pickle Cookbook inspires creative uses for homemade vegetable and fruit pickles. Each pickled fruit or vegetable includes suggestions for creative uses in dishes and cocktails as well as flavor variations. You’ll even learn how to use the brine in the recipes you prepare! Create tons of delicious recipes with pickled ingredients with The Quick Pickle Cookbook! Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.