We grow a lot of our food and spend a lot of time preserving it. For pickling vegetables such as carrots, beets, garlic, and cucumbers I make a standard brine. The seasonings are added to each jar individually for versatility, consistency and fantastic flavour development over time. This method makes it easier for me to process large batches with more variety. Someone smart once said “Variety is the spice of life” and I couldn’t agree more.
Pickling is a tasty way to preserve your garden bounty. It is also an excellent gateway project for those interested in starting canning. You can process pickled vegetables using a water bath canner, so you don’t need expensive equipment to get started. You can tailor some aspects of a recipe such as spices, salt, and sugar content but always follow the processing time specified in your recipe and maintain the exact vinegar (5%) to water ratio.
Reading: how to make brine for caning pickles
Tips for making the perfect pickling brine
A good brine has the correct ratio of vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. As a rule, your brine should be two parts vinegar to one part water (i.e. 2 cups Pure white vinegar + 1 Cup water.) This rule is for food safety so be sure to adhere to this ratio or follow your recipe carefully. You can add seasoning’s and spices to the brine, or you can add the individual spices and herbs to each jar for a brighter flavour development over time.
Only vinegar with an acetic acid content of at least 5% is suitable for food preservation. With all the heat that will be applied in the hot water bath, a lot of the nutrients in some of the more expensive speciality vinegar gets neutralized anyhow, so it’s best to save them for your homemade dressings and infusions.
Salt has been used for preserving food for centuries. It inhibits the growth of bacteria and mould. We use sea salt, but you can use kosher, pickling or rock salt. Just be sure that it is pure salt without anti-caking agents or additives. Iodized salt has additives and is not an ideal salt for pickling.
Raw packed pickling
Vegetables can be raw packed when you are pickling them. Raw packed means you do not have to parboil the vegetables before putting them in jars. As they sit in the pickling liquid, they will soften to just the perfect texture with a slight crunch. I recommend raw packing whenever it is safe to do so. The less heat applied to your food the more nutrients and the brighter colored the preserves.
It is essential that you follow the processing times specified in your recipe or as recommended by a food safety authority. It is also important to know what options you have for processing each type of fruit or vegetable. This link offers an excellent resource filled website for canning.
If you enjoy this recipe you might also like Pickled Carrots with Ginger & Dill Recipe and Home Canning: Pickled Beets with Dill Recipe.