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The Pickling Process: Simple Steps to Master the Artisan Pickle

Alexandra Gilliland

There are two kinds of people, those who hate pickles and those who love them. Rarely do you encounter a person without a strong opinion about pickles. I happen to be one of the latter. Growing up, I had such a strong love of pickles that I would often find a jar wrapped up under my family Christmas tree (always in the okra variety) for me. But, something happened in the last twenty years from my days of unwrapping okra pickles: suddenly pickling became hip. It’s now akin to indie music and independent coffee shops, and a far cry from my Grandmother’s pickled beets stuffed in the back of the fridge.

In spite of all my years of pickle loving, and the fact that pickling seems to be the new hip thing to do, I have yet to pickle …until now. So, here are some quick steps to help the first time pickler:

Step 1: Decide On Vegetables

You can pickle almost any vegetable: Brussels sprouts, carrots, beets, green peppers, onions … For my first attempt, I went traditional and pickled cucumbers. Once you decide on your vegetable(s), chop them into your preferred shape. I chopped my cucumbers into thin disks.

Step 2: To Blanche Or Not To Blanche

Some vegetables will come out better if you blanche them first. Tomatoes and cucumbers are so high in water content that you can skip the blanching process, whereas carrots, beets, and okra should be blanched. If you do decide to blanche your vegetables, make sure the vegetables are cool before proceeding to the next step.

Step 3: Place Vegetables Into Sterilized Jar

Boil your jar to ensure sterilization. Place vegetables into the jar, making sure that you leave at least ½ inch space at the top.

Step 4: Add Flavors

Get creative. Use dill, oregano, cumin or any dry seasoning you have on hand. I recommend about a ½ teaspoon of each dry seasoning per jar. For fresh herbs, I suggest using two sprigs. In my case, I used ½ teaspoon of dill.

Step 5: Make Brine

Use a 2 to 1 ratio of water and vinegar (both white vinegar and apple cider vinegar will work). In my case, I used 2 cups of water, 1 cup of apple vinegar, 1 teaspoon of sea salt, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. For a sweeter pickle, add more sugar. Bring all ingredients to a boil, until salt and sugar are dissolved.

Step 6: Add Brine To Jars And Refrigerate

Pour brine into the jar, making sure to cover the vegetables completely. Leave at least a ½ inch between the brine and the top of the jar; this allows room for the pressure that is produced once fermentation begins. Discard any leftover brine. Seal jars and refrigerator for at least 24 hours. Some pickling experts recommend refrigerating for 2 weeks (but who can wait that long for a tasty pickle?).

Step 7: The Hardest Part

Open the jar and enjoy!!!!


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