Well pickle me

Autumn is a time of bountiful fruit and vegetable harvests, and stocking up for winter. One age-old method of doing this is pickling.

Pickling with vinegar likely originated in ancient Mesopotamia around 2400 BCE. Archaeological evidence points to cucumbers being pickled in the Tigris Valley in 2030 BCE. Throughout history, pickling vegetables in vinegar continued to develop in the Middle East region before spreading to the Maghreb, to Sicily and to Spain.

These days, people pickle the world over, using the same basic method of packing the fresh produce and desired spices into sterilised jars, filling the jars completely with a vinegar-based pickling brine, and then preserving the jars using one of two methods.

The beauty of pickling is that it can be done all year round, using whatever produce is available. Young, fresh vegetables and fruit are best, including cucumbers, green beans, peppers, carrots, and asparagus. Certain produce, such as asparagus, is blanched before pickling.

There are essentially two ways to go about pickling:

Quick Pickling is a fast and simple process, which involves putting your vegetables in a pickling solution and waiting a bit. They will last for several weeks to several months in the refrigerator.
This process is best for pickles that you know you will be eating and enjoying within a short period of time because they will lose their crunch the longer they remain in the brine.
The Boiling Water Bath Method involves jars of prepared food being heated in a boiling water bath for a specific amount of time. Food that is processed correctly and stored properly should be safe for one year. Once the food has been opened, refrigerate as you would any other fresh food.

TOP TIP: When making pickles, it’s best to use non-metallic utensils because metals will react with acids or salts used, and cause undesirable colour and taste changes in the pickles, making them unfit to eat.

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