When you think of the word pickled, what comes to mind? Do you picture briny cucumbers in glass jars sitting among condiments in the grocery store or do you envision the art of pickling or preserving products so they can be eaten at a later date? If the latter is what you had in mind, I have a book for you to read. It’s called the Pickled Pantry, and it’s written by Andrea Chessman and put out by Storey Publishing. Part cookbook, part informational guide, it has over 150 recipes for pickles, relishes, chutneys, and more. If you have leftover produce from your summer garden, Chessman shows you how to preserve and enjoy it well into the winter months.
And you don’t even need a bunch of specialized equipment for some pickling. In fact, check out this recipe for making refrigerator dill pickles. With just some cucumbers, vinegar, and some herbs and spices you can literally have pickles ready to eat in a matter of hours.
What Are the Advantages of Pickling?
Although simple in concept, pickling requires knowledge, skills, and equipment. A bit time consuming at first, preserving food has its advantages. First and foremost, it eliminates waste and saves money. By pickling food you raised yourself, you can cut your grocery bill in half.
Next, you have a wider variety of fruits and vegetables to choose from. Produce doesn’t have to be “in season” for you to enjoy it. The pickling process maintains flavor and freshness. You can enjoy your favorite foods year round without having to pay extra for them at the grocery store.
Last but not least, pickled foods are nutritious and delicious. You can easily add a homemade relish or chutney to a dish and transform it into something gourmet. Ask any foodie. A good pickle is worth its weight in gold.
What Does Pickling Entail?
Before you run out and buy a bunch of canning jars, note that pickling is a process. Although it’s not an exact science, there are some things you should be aware of. Take volume for example. There is something Chessman calls “Produce Math”. The term refers to the weight of the produce in relation to volume. Things like shape, degree of ripeness, variety, and shape of container are to be factored in when gauging quantities of apples, carrots, onions, and tomatoes.
You should also possess a boiling-water-bath canner, glass jars with lids, a pickling crock, and a kitchen scale a well as optional items like a food processor, a canning funnel, a jar lifter, a bubble releasing tool like a wooden chopstick or narrow spatula, and dish towels. These items make it much easier to safely preserve food for future consumption.
Before you pickle, your kitchen should be organized. The fruits and vegetables should already be prepared. You also should have prepped the jars and the preheated the canner. This will give you the time you need to prepare the pickling solution and pack the jars.
The perfect pickle is one recipe away. To learn how to make Spiced Carrot Sticks, Dilled Jerusalem Artichokes, Curried Zucchini Pickles, and Tomatillo Salsa, refer to Andrea Chessman’s Pickled Pantry book. It’s well worth picking up.
Charissa is into frugal living and saving money.