Preparing Pickles

Preparing Pickles

When preserved in vinegar or brine, almost any produce will make crisp, delicious pickles to serve on sandwiches or as a snack. Cucumbers are by far the most popular vegetables for pickling, but there are many others, including beets, cauliflower, onions, watermelon rind, and okra.

When choosing the ingredients, look for fresh, firm produce, Avoid using produce that has been coated with wax; the vinegar won't be able to penetrate the wax barrier. Refrigerating the vegetables before pickling will produce a crisper pickles. Make sure that your vinegar is at least 4 percent to 6 percent acetic acid (most commercial vinegars are). Also, use a mild-tasting vinegar that won't interfere with the flavor of the pickles. Distilled white vinegar, white wine vinegar, and cider vinegar are all great for making pickles.

To keep pickling brine clear, season the pickles with pickling sat, kosher salt, sea salt, or any other salt that doesn't include additives. Avoid standard table salt, which contains additives and will turn a brine cloudy. Also, use only whole spices to season your pickles. Chopped or crushed spices will make the brine cloudy.

To safely process pickles, use sterilized jars, lids, tongs and other canning equipment. Scald the equipment in gently boiling water, then pour the pickles into the hot, scalded jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe the rims clean, attach the lids, and tightly screw on the caps. Invert the jars for 10 seconds. Place the filled jars back in boiling water to inactivate any spoilage enzymes that may ruin your pickles. The USDA recommends processing at least 10 minutes for pint-size jar and 20 minutes for quart-size jars. Also, let processed jars of pickles cool undisturbed for at least 12 minutes. Avoid touching the bands on the jars after they have been processed, as any tightening can break the seal.

Letting the pickles sealed, processed jars sit for at least 6 weeks before eating will ensure that the pickles  had developed full flavor.

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