Pickling is an age-old process that has been used to preserve perishable foods through a choreographed fermentation. The process helps you stock up on food that will last even if there is a power outage and your refrigerator fails you. Pickling also helps people avoid processed, ready-to-eat canned foods by providing a healthy alternative that lasts just as long. So, The Daily Meal did a little research and contacted our friends at Brooklyn Brine, a pickle factory out of Brooklyn, N.Y., to give you a few ideas about the process.
Want to know how to do it? Grab your glass mason jar and follow these pickling 101 tips.
There are two different bases used for pickling, that each highlight specific flavors. If you want a salty flavor, use a brine, which is a saltwater solution, but for the sour flavor (reminiscent of a pickle) use a marinade, which has a vinegar base. There is no difference between the processes for each of the two bases, only a difference in taste.
We have shared a recipe for pickled banana peppers here.
Shamus Jones, founder of Brooklyn Brine, shared with us the science behind the base: "Two percent of the volume of the produce must be salt," he says. So, if you want to breakdown your recipe scientifically that’s the way to measure.
Picking for Pickling
There is only one rule for picking an item to pickle: "Always use fresh produce," shared Jones. Using anything else will lead to a less than satisfactory pickling process.
Basically, that means you can pickle just about anything. Pickling is usually done with sliced carrots, cucumbers, peppers, and garlic, but you can also pickle strawberries, melons, and many other fruits.
Here is a recipe for pickled Rainer cherries. This is a sweet twist on the popular summer fruit.
Sealing the Deal
Because pickling is done by fermentation, sealing the glass jar is the most important step of the pickling process.
The best process is called a hot seal. With a hot seal, the jar is heated to prevent bacteria from forming during the fermentation process. Jars should be heated by submerging them into boiling water for 10 minutes. The water should completely cover the jar with about two inch of water covering the lid.
Once you’re ready to begin the pickling process, remove the jars from the boiling water and fill them with the fruits or vegetables and the solution of your choice, making sure the solution is warmed so that it is tempered with the hot glass jar. Once you are done filling the jar, close it tightly and boil the sealed jar for an additional 10 minutes.
FYI — If the jar makes a "pop" sound, the seal has been broken and you must refrigerator this jar because it will not ferment in a way for healthy consumption.
Pickling can take a few days or a few weeks to complete the fermentation process, but if you do not want to wait, go over to Brooklyn Brine and pick up a jar to munch on while you wait for your mixture to finish.
If you want a twist on cherries try this out. Cherries are plentiful in the summer, making this a great treat.
Banana peppers are a great complemet to any sandwich, salad, or pasta dish. To add even more flavor, pickle these peppers and throw them in.