Pickling is the process of preserving food by anaerobic fermentation in brine or vinegar and can preserve perishable foods for months. Pickling is most often accomplished by canning produce in a vinegar-brine, most often using the water bath canning method, or by wild fermentation, using fermentation equipment like a pickling crock or a fermentation kit like the Perfect Pickler.
HOW IT WORKS: VINEGAR BRINED PICKLES VS NATURALLY FERMENTED PICKLES
Pickling Using a Vinegar Brine
Using a basic mixture of vinegar, water & salt creates a brine that food can be pickled in. This option encompasses a variety of sub-methods and often uses home canning techniques such as the water bath canning method. The main distinction here is that foods that are pickled in a vinegar brine are not considered fermented. Making pickles with the vinegar brine method uses the water bath canning method.
Pickling by Natural Fermentation
For foods with high water content, pickling can be achieved by simply salting the produce to draw the water out to create a brine. This method is common for making foods like sauerkraut and is referred to as natural or ‘wild’ fermentation.
Fermented pickles are proven to contain healthy probiotics and other beneficial live bacteria that do not exist in vinegar-brined pickles. Making pickles by natural fermentation requires some kind of fermentation vessel, such as a pickling crock or a fermentation kit.
THE MAIN 3 METHODS FOR VINEGAR-BRINE PICKLING AT HOME
There are three general methods for vinegar-brine pickling: quick-pickling, salt-brine pickling and the vinegar-brine soak and rinse method. Within those methods, there exist many variations, recipes and approaches to make things like relishes and chutneys. Each pickling method has its own benefits, and some foods lend themselves better to one method or another.
These are sometimes called “fresh pickles”. The basic method is to pack your fresh produce & any other spices into sterilized canning jars, pour a vinegar-based pickling brine into the jars to completely submerge the produce, and then preserve the jars with the water bath canning method. Certain produce, like asparagus, is blanched before pickling.
Other produce like beets are cooked until tender (beets) and cooled before pickling. Cucumbers, carrots, cauliflower, peppers and green beans are all great candidates for quick-pickling. Fruits such as cherries and crab apples also do well.
Quick-pickles are the easiest way to have delicious pickles ready to eat in just a few days or less. They may have less depth to their flavour profile, and may not be as healthy as fermented pickles; however, they are the perfect method for first-time and beginning picklers.
The salt-brined pickling method is specifically for pickling vegetables and products that have high water content. By ‘salting’ the product before it is packed into the canning jars, you can draw some of the natural water content out of the produce. This allows the pickling liquid to soak deeper into the produce creating a better flavour, texture and shelf life.
This method is accomplished by dousing your produce with salt or soaking it in a salt-vinegar brine solution to draw the water out. After you have sufficiently salt-brined your produce, you will want to thoroughly rinse and drain the produce.
Vinegar-Brine Soak And Rinse Method
This method is similar to the salt-brined method above, but requires an added layer of complexity to draw the maximum amount of water out of the produce. This allows the produce to be completely saturated by the pickling liquid, offering a more savory & well-textured pickle. This method draws the maximum amount of water out of the produce by soaking, draining and soaking again using a vinegar solution. Sometimes a salt-water brine and plenty of sugar are used in this process as well.