Think pickles

Posted by on October 19th, 2018

How does your garden grow? Well, after the uncommonly warm growing season of 2018, the answer is probably “pretty darn well.”

With bountiful backyard harvests coming in faster than families can eat, many home gardeners are making up more farm-to-fork soups, pies and salads than they ever thought possible.

But the onslaught continues. As the late season crops come in, this prodigious produce inevitably makes its way to the office, to church and the family reunion.

At first, the people in your life may appear to appreciate it, but there’s a limit! Remember, they have their excesses too!

Have you considered pickling? Pickling is an old-school, economical method for keeping fruits and vegetables out of the compost bin.

The basic process is simple. First, add slices of fruits and/or vegetables to sterilized jars.

Pretty much everything that grows can be pickled, but certain veggies like beets, Brussels sprouts, carrots, ginger, green beans, okra and peppers benefit from blanching (briefly cooking in boiling water) first.

Next, you’ll need to make a hot vinegar and water pickling solution called “brine.” Brine includes salt, sugar and spices for flavoring – dill, mustard seed, coriander, cinnamon and many, many more possibilities.

Check the label to make sure the vinegar has 5 percent acidity. Pickled produce needs sufficient acid to prevent microbes from growing and causing spoilage Use canning or pickling salt. Table salt can cloud the brine or darken the pickles.

Once the brine is prepared, pour it over the produce to be pickled.

Seal with hot canning lids and cook in a boiling water bath. In pickling, you don’t cook the jars as long as you might in other forms of canning. Process time can be as little as 15 minutes. Allow to cool. Check for a good seal and store in a dark place.

Let the flavors develop as long as you see fit and you’ve made your own pickles.

Pickled vegetables or fruit will keep for about 5 to 6 months in a jar — always make sure to refrigerate whatever you open.