When your garden has a great year, do you just give all those extra veggies away to friends and neighbors? Sharing is great, but you can enjoy that homegrown food yourself for much longer if you pickle the surplus. It's actually quite easy to pickle vegetables, and you can store the finished products in your fridge or cupboard for several months.
Here are a few things you will need before you start the pickling party.
There are so many different mixes and blends for pickling solutions that you could write an entire book on the subject (and some people have). You need some type of pickling vinegar; for best results try different types and depths of color. Don't be afraid to experiment. You'll also need pickling salt and some fresh garlic, so make sure you have these on hand before you get started.
Note that after pickling, the vinegar may change color. This is usually caused by the garlic you use, so try to use a smooth, blemish-free clove—and remove it before adding your vegetables.
Equipment You Will Need
There are several pieces of equipment you will need for pickling vegetables, depending on which method you choose. The quicker and easier method lets you store your pickled vegetables for around four months, the more complicated method using a pressure canner will allow longer storage.
For both methods, you'll need a large pan for boiling the pickling solution, a heat-proof jug and several sterilized jars with matching lids. You can sterilize these in a dishwasher on the shortest cycle (don’t wash anything else with them, though) or in a medium-heated oven for 20 minutes or so, with the jars laid on their sides on a parchment paper-covered baking tray.
If you don't plan on refrigerating your pickled vegetables, you'll need to use a more sterile method which involves a pressure canner. These cost around $35 dollars and ensure the contents of your pickle jars remain safe and edible over a longer period of time.
Best Vegetables for Pickling
There are many vegetables suited for pickling. Zucchini and cucumbers are both popular choices—as are peppers, onions, carrots, cabbage… In fact, you can pickle pretty much any vegetable.
Wash, seed, and chop your vegetables as required. Then, parboil for about two minutes. Once the vegetables are removed from heat, add them to the jars for pickling.
Easy Way to Pickle Vegetables
With your vegetables prepared, boil the pickling solution. Meanwhile, remove your jars from the oven and carefully (using oven mitts) stand them up. Transfer the jars to a solid surface and begin to add your vegetables, leaving a 1/2 inch gap at the top of the jar. Pour in the pickling solution, again leaving a 1/2 inch gap at the top.
Place the lids on the jars, but wait for them to cool before tightening. Then, put the jars in the back of the fridge. With this method, your pickled vegetables will stay tasty for about four months. Of course, if you don't think you'll be able to eat them all within that time, you can still share with the neighbors.
More Pickling Tips
What's your favorite vegetable to pickle? Have you tried to pickle anything unusual or exotic? Share with us in the comments!