Pickles and Pickling: A Quick Introduction

pickle photoIf you’re a TruLog Wilderness Blog reader, you’ve seen our canning and preserving introduction. If you’re new, then welcome! You’re just in time for a great autumn favorite– the basics of pickling! As promised, here is your introduction to pickling.

If you’ve got a bumper crop of produce–or if you’re just interested in keeping some cucumbers, tomatoes, or garlic around–then there is no better way to store your hard-earned veggies than pickling. There’s nothing like that delicious, snappy, tangy taste of pickled produce for a treat come mid-winter!

Pickling is as easy as one-two-three! Here’s part one…

At its simplest, all pickling is, is submerging vegetables in a preservative. Sound easy? Good! You’re on the right track for a world of delicious pickled treats. Now, the specifics get a little more complex. Hope you’re ready for some notes!

First, it’s important to understand what you’re doing when you pickle. Pickling, officially, is anaerobic fermentation– and while you don’t need to know much about the science behind it, you do have to remember that proper pickling needs clean equipment and produce! When you pickle, you’re using the brine to cultivate helpful bacteria. This means that you need to sterilize your equipment, otherwise you may start cultivating bacteria you don’t want!

True pickling isn’t the only way to get pickles, however. If fermentation doesn’t sound like your cup of brine, then there’s always the vinegar brine method! Using man-made brine from a solution of boiled vinegar and salt, the pickler-on-the-go can make ‘Quick Pickles.’ And while they’re not technically traditional pickles, they’re delicious! Depending on what you want to pickle, you may want to decide which technique you prefer before you begin.

Pickling can be as simple or complex as you want it to be

Of course, no matter what you’re looking to pickle, you can dive head-first down the pickling rabbit hole. As with any culinary subject, there’s always more to learn. But for those looking to get started with pickling, we recommend this refrigerator pickle recipe from thekitchn.com!

The simple gist of it, is that you’re pouring a flavorful brine over raw vegetables inside a canning jar. First, wash and prepare the vegetables to preference. Then, cook the brine with whichever flavor you prefer! The recipe as written calls for mustard seeds, but you can use garlic or peppers, as well. Finally, pack the vegetables tightly in their jars, and fill the jars with brine. Once you’re done, you can let the jars sit in the refrigerator until they’re ready– usually just a few days!

For more information on pickling, stay tuned to the Tru Log Wilderness Blog. We’ve got all of the traditional culinary info you could want!

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