Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pickling



Hey Everyone!


I have become a cupcake baking machine in the last week. Something you may not know about me was that my online debut actually started with a cupcake blog. A couple years ago I had become the official company birthday dessert creator. I baked cupcakes for everyone's birthdays. I became pretty good at coming up with new and interesting flavors... so I decided to share that with the internet world. Putting yourself in a box like that can become a little redundant and in the last year I have sorta lost my passion for the little cakes. But my brother is getting married in two weeks and I have been recruited to make them for his reception. There are going to be around 250 guests so it is a BIG project. I decided to start them a bit early and keep them safely locked in a gigantic deep freeze at my sister's work.

With all that going on I have been a bit stressed but I had one goal for the summer and that was to pickle! I have always wanted to try and there are so many fun things to find at the farmer's market at this time of year so I really wanted to get on it before summer ended. I started scavenging around to find all the tips and tricks to create the perfect pickles.

I haven't had a chance to taste my pickles since they have to sit for a few weeks before they are optimal for consumption but I am going to combine some of those tips for those of you that want to make your own pickles before the end of the season!

To Find Out More About Pickling Click Below...


There are two types of pickling. You can quick pickle which is when you just pour a hot vinegar mixture over your prepped veg and store in the fridge. This type of pickling is great for using up produce in the house. You can stretch the length of its shelf life by pickling it. Quick pickles can only last a few weeks in the fridge and are not shelf stable.


Quick Pickle Recipe

This is just a general recipe... they are all different- adding spices and herbs give them a unique flavor. Popular flavors used are cloves and dill but a lot of the hearty herbs and spices work! This is your chance to be creative.

1/2 Cup White Vinegar
2 Tbs Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1 clove of garlic
3 heads of dill ( 1 tsp dried dill)

You want to heat the vinegar, sugar and salt in a sauce pan until the sugar is melted and it comes to a boil.

There are many different vegetables you can pickle. At my work we pickle everything from watermelon rinds to kohlrabi, beets, carrots and onions. Just like the herbs and spices the vegetable should be a bit more solid and contain some fiber but realistically you can pickle anything. One of the things I really want to try is pickled green tomatoes. Although these little buggers might be better for the canned pickle method- they are absolutely delicious!

Once you have prepped your vegetables (cleaned, sliced and put into the storage container) You can add the garlic and dill and the pour the hot liquid right into the storage container. Once the mixture has cooled store in the fridge until you are ready to eat. These don't take very long to cook- optimally you can use once they reach fridge temperature.

The second more intense type of pickling is canned pickling. This is not much different from the quick pickle method but you take the process a bit further and actually can the pickles. Canning uses a hot water bath that creates a vacuum inside the jar or can used. Once that vacuum is created it essentially seals the jar and makes a shelf stable bacteria free environment for your pickles. You can keep canned pickles a lot longer until the seal is broken. One the seal is broken they must be kept in the fridge and have about the same expiration date as your quick pickles.

There are some more technical things to think about when canning your pickles. I will be giving you a little more one on one through the canning process on friday when I show you how I canned some summer tomato juice.



Produce

Use crisp, fresh produce.

Pickles are ALWAYS better when they are crisp. Make sure you keep your produce  chilled- this is especially true for cucumbers. They get mushy quickly in heated environments. You are going to be cooking them inside jars in a water bath so you want to make sure they are cold when they go into the jars. I usually wash the produce in ice water to keep them super chilly.

Water
That will be used in the pickling liquid not the water bath.

Use only soft water. Hard water can increase the pH of your brine and might allow bateria to grow in your jars.

Spices

Use fresh spices, whole, crushed, or ground. Avoid spices stored in your pantry for more than a year.
Powdered spices can turn pickling liquid dark and cloudy which isn't much fun to look at.

Premixed pickling spices are available at the grocery store but they aren't as much fun to work with, because you can't be creative and what's cooking without creativity? It is just hard work.... Ha!

Salt

Always use pickling salt, NOT table salt. Table salt contains iodine-a chemical that can darken pickles. Anti-caking agents found in table salt can also cause cloudiness.



Vinegar

Commercial white vinegar is the best. Cider vinegar and malt vinegars can add flavor complexity ut they can affect the color of your vegetables. If you want your pickles more sour there is a product called pickling vinegar that you can find at the grocery store.

Last Monday I successfully pickled a HUGE batch of both pickled cucumbers and green, wax and purple beans. I used all of these tips to create the perfect pickle! When I crack one of those babies open in a few weeks I hope for a crisp balanced product.

Danielle has been giving us some great insight on her journey to learning how to can this week. I wish we had a cool store like the Preserving Place in MN. It seems like a really fun shop. Check back Friday for some tips on how to can and keep your produce shelf stable.



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