Preserving vegetables is a wonderful way to lock in summer flavours to be enjoyed during the colder months. It has also become a bit of a novelty, with pickles of all shapes and colours adorning plates across the nation. I once believed that a salty, tangy, garlicky dill pickle was the ultimate, but lately I have come across some other delicious pickled bites. Here are some things you should know about pickling:
1. Preserved pickling refers to the process of soaking a fruit or vegetable in a solution of vinegar or brine, additional salt and possibly spices. Successful preserving requires a specific sterilization process to ensure that pickled products are safe to store. These guidelines are available at Health Canada. If pickled properly, your food items can be stored for months.
2. Recently, the method of quick pickling has become very popular. Quick pickling uses similar ingredients to preserved pickling, but items must be stored in the refrigerator and have a much shorter life span. The advantage of quick pickling is that you can experiment with new flavours, without the risk of wasting ingredients.
3. Regardless of which method you choose, always use Kosher salt. The use of any other salt will result in your pickles being too salty.
4. Try using flavoured vinegar which can add new twists to your favourite pickle recipes. Similarly, using brown sugar, honey or molasses instead of white sugar will impact the flavour of your pickles.
Six fruits and vegetables to preserve this season
Green cherry tomatoes: At the end of the season, or before your cherry tomatoes turn red, pick them for pickling. These tomatoes are best suited to preserved pickling because the crunchy texture holds up well and maintains its bite for months in storage. Opt for white vinegar and minimal sugar, and add hot peppers for a spicy infusion.
Tip: They make an excellent garnish for Caesars or martinis.
Radishes: Perfect for quick pickling, radish pickles can be ready in under an hour! Try this quick pickle recipe for radishes — the rice vinegar and sugar balance out the sharpness of the radish perfectly.
Tip: They make a great topping for burgers.
Corn: The sweetness of corn pairs nicely with the tangy zing of pickling. Pre-cook your corn and remove kernels from the cob before pickling. You can either use the preserved pickling or quick pickling method — both work well with corn.
Tip: Adding chilies to the pickling solution will balance the corn’s sweetness perfectly.
Beans: Beans are an excellent option for canning. They taste great treated with a garlic-dill solution, traditionally used for cucumber pickles.
Red onions: Red wine vinegar and red onions are a perfect match. Apply a quick pickle to your red onions and don’t forget a little sugar to sweeten the pot. Store onions in the fridge. One large red onion will need about 1 cup of pickling liquid.
Cucumbers: Opt for an Asian-inspired quick pickle instead of traditional dill pickling. Asian quick pickles are a combination of rice vinegar, sugar, sometimes fish sauce and soy sauce and almost always involve an awesome kick of spice. Other vegetables that are ideal for this pickle are carrots, daikon and cabbage.
Originally published September 1st, 2015.