Small guide to pickles: all the tips for making them at home
Pickling is one of the best ways to keep seasonal vegetables fresh even after months: here’s how to do it correctly.
Dedicating yourself to the preservation of seasonal vegetables is a pleasure that goes beyond the moment of preparation: it anticipates the moment of tasting, when, despite nature giving us different first fruits, our appetite claims flavors that have already passed. This is what happens with pickled preservation which, together with preserves , pickles and salted, represents one of the best methods to give new life to seasonal vegetables .
How does it work
It starts with three ingredients – water, vinegar and salt – add the duly treated vegetables and proceed to cooking by pasteurization . ConservationPreservation is guaranteed by fermentation in the absence of oxygenit takes place thanks to a type of anaerobic fermentation triggered by acetic acid bacteria. The absence of oxygen and humidity inside the jar is fundamental in order to eliminate the proliferation of further pathogens and to preserve all the organoleptic properties of the added vegetables and spices. Preparing the pickles at home is a very simple operation: it involves following a few steps precisely and respecting the right cooling times . To start, you just have to choose your favorite vegetables, elegant glass jars and nice labels to remind you of the preparation date.
The right vinegar
It may seem obvious, but not all types of vinegar are recommended for preparing pickles. Prefer white wine – with an acidity level equal to or greater than 6% – and dilute it with water. The proportion to follow is that of 2: 1, that is double the dose of water compared to that of vinegar. Avoid using red wine vinegar which could alter the color and taste of vegetables. A lighter but equally valid alternative is apple cider vinegar: in this case, however, its lower acidity does not require dilution in water.
Vegetables: which ones to use
Preparing pickles is a great way to always have them available and taste-proofThe most suitable are the firmer onesnon-seasonal vegetables. However, it is preferable to focus on varieties with a firmer and more compact consistency , such as: carrots, celery, green beans, peppers, onions, cucumbers, corn, peas, mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini or artichokes. First, make sure the vegetables are fresh and of top quality . Clean them carefully by washing them several times under running water and blanch them for a few minutes (depending on the size and type of vegetable) in a fairly large pot with water and vinegar. Drain the vegetables still al dente, rinse them with cold water to stop cooking and let them dry completely on a cloth. Now season them by adding the salt and spices of your choice.
The perfect jar: how to arrange your vegetables
As with preserves or pickles, the perfect container is the classic airtight glass jar . Choose the size that best suits the amount of vegetables you have available considering that adding vinegar will increase the overall volume. Arrange the vegetables on the base of the jar, arranging them neatly – horizontally or vertically – and fill with the vinegar diluted in the water up to one and a half centimeters of the edge of the jar. Leaving this space will be essential when fermentation begins .
But let’s get to the most delicate step . Pasteurization will allow you to sterilize the jars preventing the proliferation of dangerous bacteria over the long termThe most important step to ensure shelf lifeconservation of pickles. Close your jars carefully, then immerse them completely in a pot of water with rather high sides. From the moment the water starts to boil, wait 20-30 minutes, adding more water if you notice that the level drops to reveal part of the jars. At this point, turn off the heat and let the jars cool inside the pot . When they become lukewarm, transfer them to a cloth and bring them to completely cool. To be safe, let them rest for at least 12 hours, then check that each jar is hermetically sealed : the litmus test is to turn the cans upside down to check their vacuum.
Your pickles are ready to be stored. You can leave them for up to 4 months in a cool and dry place away from sunlight or sources of heat and humidity . However, the advice is not to consume them before two weeks from preparation . Once opened, however, you can keep the pickles in the refrigerator for about a month .