How to Pickle: A Beginner’s Guide

Pickling is a process that preserves food by pickling it in an acidic solution. This method of preservation has been practiced for centuries and was used to preserve foods before the advent of refrigeration. There are many pickles you can pickle with, such as cucumbers, eggplant, cauliflower, and more! In this article, we will discuss how pickling works and what equipment you need to get started. All of these factors will explain pickling for beginners.

What is Pickling?

A pickle is a food that has been preserved in an acidic solution. This method of preserving foods was used before the advent of refrigeration to prevent spoilage and stop decay from spreading. Foods pickled with this technique have a long shelf life, without losing any nutritional value or flavor compared to fresh produce. There are many pickles you can pickle, including cucumbers, eggplant, cauliflower, etc.

This method of preserving food is called pickling. Pickled foods have a long shelf life without losing any nutritional value or flavor compared to fresh produce.

What is the History of Pickling? 

The practice of pickling dates back thousands of years with records showing that pickles were eaten as early as 2100 BC in Babylonian culture. These days, people would make pickles with various pickling methods. Some pickles are made with vinegar, while others would use salt brine.

Truly pickled foods have a long shelf life without losing any nutritional value or flavor compared to fresh produce. Pickling was practiced thousands of years ago and has been used for various pickling methods over the years!

How do I Pickle?

Pickling is easy to get started with. You will need jars (glass or ceramic),  pickling spices (such as pickling salt, pickling spice mix, pickling dill seed), vinegar (diluted with water), or brine.

To get started pickling you will need jars (glass or ceramic), pickling spices like pickles salt, pickle spice mix, and pickled dill seeds. You can also pickle with vinegar or pickling brine!

What Equipment Do I Need? 

It’s easy to pickle and you don’t need a lot of equipment. You will need glass jars, like mason or jam jars, pickling salt (non-iodized), white vinegar with an acidity level of at least five percent, fresh produce that is free from mold or rot, water bath canner pot for sterilizing the pickling equipment, pickling funnel for filling the pickles in jars, and a pickle weight to keep the pickles submerged.

The following are some basic items you will need when getting started with pickling! You don’t need much equipment at all. 

– Glass jars 

– Pickling salt (noniodized) 

– White vinegar with an acidity level of at least five percent 

– Fresh produce that is free from mold or rot 

– Water bath canner pot for sterilizing pickling equipment 

– Pickling funnel for filling pickles in jars 

– A pickle weight to keep the pickles submerged.   

Types of Pickling

There are pickling methods for pickling foods, such as vinegar pickles and brine pickled vegetables.

Vinegar pickles use a highly acidic solution to preserve food by pickling it in vinegar alone or in a mixture of water and vinegar. These types of pickled foods can be seasoned with various spices, herbs, fruits, or vegetables.

Brine pickles use a mixture of brine and vinegar or saltwater to pickle foods in an acidic solution. These pickling methods rely on the acidity levels created by naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria, which is what makes these pickled items taste sour.

As you can see, there are many types of pickling methods that pickle vegetables in different nutritious solutions!

Which Vegetables Can I Pickle?

Let’s check what vegetables you can preserve with this technique. 

– Cucumbers pickled with vinegar and spices 

– Summer squash pickles made in a mixture of brine, salt, sugar, dill weed, mustard seeds, garlic cloves 

– Carrots are pickled using the same method as the summer squash pickle recipe but without adding dill weed or mustard seed. You can also add pickling spices like pickling salt, pickle spice mix, and pickled dill seeds 

– Asparagus can be pickled with a mixture of water and vinegar or just using the brine method mentioned above. You can add various vegetables to your asparagus pickles such as cauliflower, onions, garlic cloves for more flavor 

– Green beans pickled with the brine pickling method and pickling spices like pickled salt, pickle spice mix, and pickled dill seeds 

– Onions are pickled in a pickling brine with pickling spices, sugar, and garlic cloves. 

– Beets are pickled using the same method as onions but without adding the sugar. 

-Radishes are pickled in pickling brine, pickling salt, pickle spice mix, and pickled dill seeds.

Should You Sterilize Jars?

Some pickling recipes require you to sterilize the jars before pickling. You can steam-sterilize your pickle jar lids and jars in a large pot with water.

It is not necessary to boil pickles for this method of pickling foods but it helps if the vegetables are fresh and clean when stored in these containers!

What Can I Pickle With?

You will pickle your vegetables in a pickling brine but you can also pickle with vinegar or pickling spices! When pickling foods, always use fresh ingredients for the best results. You can adjust the amount of salt and sugar-based on personal preferences too.

How Long Does It Take to Pickle Foods?

It can take pickles between four to six weeks for pickling foods in the brine pickling method. This is because of how long it takes for lactic acid bacteria to do their work and create acidic levels that will last up until you eat your pickled goodies!

How Long Can You Store Pickled Vegetables?

Pickled pickles can last up to two years when stored in a pickle jar with pickling salt, vinegar, and spices. If you are using the brine method then your pickled veggies will last longer than that because of lactic acid bacteria creating acidic levels over time!  

Can I Pickle in Mason Jars?

Many pickling recipes require that pickles be placed in glass jars or containers to ferment and pickle. You can use mason, jam, jelly, or other types of glass jars for this pickling method. It’s best not to use metal because it may react with the acidic solution used to pickle and preserve your pickles.

Which Spices Should You Use?

Depending on the vegetables you want to pickle, spices can vary. However, there are three essential ones.

– pickling salt

– pickle spice mix 

– pickled dill seeds.   

These spices are the basics for pickling foods but you can also add other optional ingredients like garlic cloves, mustard seed, and a variety of fresh herbs to your pickling brine! 

What is the Oven Method?

This pickling method is a way to pickle vegetables using the oven. It involves setting your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and baking cubed vegetables covered in pickling salt for around 15 minutes so that they can sweat out some of their moisture. 

You then transfer these veggies into jars and cover them with hot vinegar, water, and spices. You pickle vegetables using this method for a shorter amount of time compared to the pickling brine pickling method.

What are Fermented Pickles?

Fermented pickles are pickled foods that involve leaving them in an environment where bacteria and yeast can thrive on the food’s natural sugars found within it; which creates lactic acid. 

Fermented pickles are pickled using the pickling brine pickling method which involves putting vegetables in brine and allowing them to ferment for a few weeks. You can also add salt, spices like dill seed, mustard seed, garlic cloves, or other types of vegetables such as onions or cucumbers!  

What is Pickling Salt?

Pickling salt is pickling spices that do not contain any additives like iodine which can affect the color of pickled foods. It also doesn’t have added sugar or dextrose unlike pickling powders do! 

You should avoid using table salt for pickling because it has extra chemicals and anti-caking agents in it that can alter pickled foods. You should also avoid using kosher salt or sea salt for pickling for beginners because they contain more minerals and the pickles will be too salty! 

Some recipes call for you to add pickle spices like dill seed, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, garlic cloves, etc. but some others might ask you to pickle pickling spices that you can pick up at a grocery store or online! 

What is Pickling Spice Mix?

Pickling spice mix generally contains pickled dill seed, mustard seeds, bay leaves, peppercorns, and coriander. You might find other added ingredients like celery seed or cinnamon sticks too depending on the recipe!

You don’t have to make pickling spices yourself and you can pick them up at a grocery store or online. Store pickled pickling spices in an airtight container until it runs out! You should keep your pickle jar away from heat and light so that the flavors stay fresh too.   

Should You Use Aromatics?

Aromatics like pickling spices or fresh herbs can be added to pickled brine pickles. It is also common for recipes to ask you to add aromatics like garlic cloves, chilies, onions, etc.

Some people prefer pickled foods without any aromatics but they are optional and some pickle fanatics love the extra flavors pickled pickling spices add to pickles!

How Should You Store Jars?

Pickled pickles should be stored in a cool, dark place for best results. 

If you have pickling spices like dill seed and garlic cloves included then make sure to store them away from direct sunlight and heat! These pickled pickling spices will lose their flavors if they are left out or exposed to light.   

How to Seal Them?

You should always pickle pickling spices before sealing pickled pickles. Some recipes may ask you to seal the jars with a disc and rubber ring but for other pickling methods, lids are all that is needed! You can use mason jar lids or any type of lid as long as they fit tightly on your chosen pickled pickling jar!

How Long Should You Wait?

Most pickled pickles are ready to eat in around a week but you can also wait anywhere from two weeks up until three months! 

You should check your pickled pickling jars every day or so and once the pickle has reached its desired level of sourness, you can enjoy them with sandwiches, burgers, veggie platters, or just as pickles!

What if the Pickle Doesn’t Work?

If your pickled pickling jar didn’t go as planned, don’t worry because it can happen to anyone. Pickled pickles that are too soggy aren’t good but you should always throw out pickled pickles that have mold on them because they can be dangerous!

Useful Tips for Pickling

First, pickling pickles are made for low acid foods so you should not pickle something that is already acidic. This includes food like tomatoes or plums but some other recipes might ask you to pickled these things! 

Second, make sure your vegetables are fresh and firm before pickling them because this will ensure they stay crunchy after pickling.

Third, pickled pickles will not be crunchy if you store them in a hot or humid environment because this could cause the pickle jar to mold. You should also avoid using metal lids for pickled vegetables and use plastic ones instead!   

Fourth, make sure your veggies are submerged beneath the brine pickling pickles and you should always use a pickle jar with a lid to prevent mold growth.

Fifth, check the pickled vegetables every few days after they’ve been pickled because if there’s any mold present it could ruin your whole batch! You can also remove veggies from pickle brine before storing them in the fridge just to be safe.

Last, pickled pickles are ready to eat in around four weeks but they can stay fresh for up to six months if you keep them in the fridge after pickling them!   

These are some of many tips for pickling for beginners.

FAQ

Why Do You Boil Vinegar When Pickling?

You should pickle pickling spices in boiling vinegar if you want to make pickled pickles because this will help release the flavors of the spices and infuse them into your pickled vegetables.

Do You Need Sugar to Pickle?

No, pickled pickles should not have any sugar in the pickling brine! Sugar is just used to flavor pickled pickles but you don’t actually need it for them to ferment.

Can I Use Apple Cider Vinegar to Pickle?

Yes, pickled pickles can be made with apple cider vinegar or any type of white distilled vinegar. You should avoid using flavored vinegar unless your pickling recipes specifically tell you to do so!

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