Does your veggie garden runneth over? Did you binge buy all those delicious looking veggies when you thought you were going to eat healthier this week? It’s sad that we toss out about a third of the food that we buy. That waste not only costs us, but it produces about 20% of the greenhouse gas methane. Instead of tossing your salad, why not use your extra veggies to make pickles?!
Pickles make everything better. These little jars of happiness will keep for years and also make great gifts. Pickling could not be easier and will mean you get to preserve all your favorite veggies. Here’s how to save money, reduce your environmental impact and become everyone’s favorite pickle fairy.
What you Need:
- Vinegar with at least 5% acetic acid
- Salt without any additives
- Mason Jars
- Herbs and spices to taste*
Start by washing and chopping your veggies. Some veggies are better blanched before pickling. Blanch carrots, Brussels sprouts, ginger, beets, green beans, okra and peppers. There’s no need to blanch veggies like cucumbers, tomatoes or turnips.
You blanch veggies by popping them into a metal basket and then into a pot of rapidly boiling water. When they are still crispy, but cooked (about 2 minutes for most veggies and 5 minutes for beets), take them out of the pot and plunge straight into ice cold water. Rinse well and they are ready for pickling. This is also the method you would use when you are preparing veggies for freezing.
* Add your dry flavorings like bay leaves, celery seed, dried chilies, cumin, pepper mustard seed and turmeric. Measure out about 1/2 teaspoon or 1 bay leaf for each one-pint jar.
You can also use fresh herbs–just pop one sprig of thyme, oregano or dill into each jar. Peeled garlic cloves are also delicious and thinly sliced onions are a great flavour enhancer.
Now for the brine! The formula is simple; one cup of vinegar, one cup of water, one teaspoon of sugar and one teaspoon of salt. Increase quantities according to the number of jars you need to fill. Place your brine in a pot on the stove and heat until salt and sugar have dissolved.
Sterilize the jars by placing them on a cookie sheet in the oven at 230°F (110°C) for 15 minutes. Place the lids in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Use an oven glove to remove your cookie sheet with jars and use tongs to pull the lids form the boiling water. Allow both to cool.
Fill jars with veggies, pour in the brine until 1/2 from the top of the jar, and add your herbs. Ensure that veggies are completely covered.
Use pickling salt which has no additives. Salt which contains additives may cause your pickles to cloud. No one likes a cloudy pickle. Just saying….
Store for at least 24 hours before consuming, but three weeks will really give you a good pickle flavor.
Want crunchy beans and cucumbers? Wash your veggies and pat them dry. Sprinkle a layer of pickling salt over the veggies and leave overnight. Rinse them and discard the liquid before pickling as normal.
Get more tips, tricks and the best ever recipes in our campfire cookbook.