NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County

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Pickling Season

Pickling Season

 

Pickling is one of the oldest known methods of food preservation. Pickled foods add a special touch to many snacks and meals. The many varieties of pickled and fermented foods are classified by   ingredients and method of preparation. The four general classes are: brined or fermented, freshpack or quick-process, fruit and relishes.

 

Produce

Select fresh, firm fruits or vegetables that are free of spoilage. Use a pickling variety of cucumber because the table or slicing varieties may result in a poor quality pickle. Plan to pickle fruits or vegetables within 24 hours after the harvest for highest quality. If produce cannot be used immediately, refrigerate it and use it as soon as possible. A bushel of cucumbers weighs 48 pounds and yields 16 to 24 quarts, an average of 2 pounds per quart. Choose the appropriate size. Use cucumbers about 1½ inches long for gherkins and 4 inches for dills. Odd-shaped and more mature cucumbers can be used for relishes and bread-and-butter style pickles. Measure or weigh produce carefully. Weighing gives the most accurate measures.

 

Salt

Use a canning or pickling salt. Noncaking material added to other salts may make the brine cloudy. Do not reduce salt in fermented pickles because proper fermentation depends on the correct proportions of

salt and other ingredients. Flake salt varies in density and is not recommended for use. Some fresh-pack pickles can be prepared safely with reduced or no salt. Use only tested recipes formulated to produce the proper acidity. Both the texture and fl avor of these pickles may be noticeably different than expected. The quick pickle recipes in this publication may be made with reduced-sodium salts, such as light salts. Use of salt substitutes is not recommended.

 

Vinegar

White distilled or cider vinegars of 5 percent acidity (50 grain) are recommended. White vinegar usually is preferred when light color is desirable, as for fruits and cauliflower. Do not dilute vinegar unless the recipe so specifies. If a less sour pickle is preferred, add sugar rather than decrease vinegar.

 

Sugar

White granulated and brown sugars are used most often. Brown sugar gives a darker color and distinct flavor. Corn syrup and honey may alter the flavor.

 

Water

A soft water is recommended for pickle making. Very hard water may have an undesirable effect on the color and flavor of pickled products. However, some hard water might produce a firmer pickle. Hard water may be softened somewhat by the following method: Boil the water for five minutes. Skim off the scum and let the water sit for 24 hours. Then ladle off the water without disturbing the sediment in the bottom. Another option is to dilute hard water with soft water. To dilute, mix one part hard water with two parts soft water.

 

Spices

Use fresh, whole spices for the best flavor in pickles. Powdered spices may cause the product to darken or become cloudy. Tying whole spices loosely in a cheesecloth bag, putting the bag in the pickling liquid and then removing the bag before canning is best. If desired, add individual spices, such as a cinnamon stick, from the bag to each jar. Spices deteriorate and quickly lose their pungency in heat and humidity.

Store opened spices in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

 

Reduce Sodium Sliced Dill Pickles

4 pounds pickling (3- to 5-inch) cucumbers

6 cups vinegar (5%)

6 cups sugar

2 tablespoons canning or pickling salt

1½ teaspoons celery seed

1½ teaspoons mustard seed

2 large onions, thinly sliced

8 heads fresh dill

YIELD: About 8 pints

PROCEDURE: Wash cucumbers. Cut 1/16-inch slice off the blossom end and discard. Cut the cucumbers in ¼-inch slices. Combine vinegar, sugar, salt, celery and mustard seeds in a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to boiling. Place two slices of onion and one-half dill head on the bottom of each pint jar. Fill the jars with cucumber slices, leaving ½ inch of head space. Add one slice of onion and one-half dill head on top. Pour hot pickling solution over the cucumbers, leaving ¼ inch of head space. Adjust the lids and process in boiling water bath for 20 minutes for pints

 

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