Pickling is not just for Cucumbers
By CANDACE TUCKER, Family & Consumer Sciences Agent, UGA Extension Coweta County
Pickles and relishes are a great way to enjoy the bountiful array of fruits and vegetables long after the summer growing season is over.
That being said, pickling is not just limited to cucumbers. Peaches, green tomatoes, okra, squash and beans can also be pickled for a delightful addition to any meal. Spiced apples, muscadines, crabapples, corn, pepper and pears can be used to make relishes. Quick-process pickled fruits and vegetables are easy to make and the many flavor combinations can add a lot of variety to meals.
Talent in the kitchen is not a requirement for pickling. To ensure a higher chance that pickling will be successful, follow these simple guidelines:
- Ingredients are very important to the process of pickling. Make sure to use only high-quality, fresh fruits and vegetables. This is especially important because if you do not start with good ingredients, your product will not be as successful. Fresh, whole spices are also important in some recipes to give good flavor and prevent darkening of the pickled product.
- Salt is an integral part of many pickling processes and flavor twists. Canning or pickling salt that does not contain iodine or non-caking material is ideal.
- Use apple cider or white distilled vinegar, but the pickles may taste best with the type recommended in the recipe. Apple cider vinegar is milder and offers a different flavor note than white distilled vinegar. Any vinegar used in University of Georgia pickling recipes should be at least five percent acetic acid.
- Carefully read every recipe. There is a reason for each step and cutting corners may compromise the quality of the product and/or make it unsafe to eat. Make sure that each recipe used is from a reputable source, up-to-date and kitchen-tested. Keep in mind, that any pickled products to be stored out of the refrigerator should be processed in a boiling water canner for the recommended length of time.
- Stainless steel, glass, or unchipped metal pans should be used when heating pickling liquids. Aluminum can be used if the brine will only be in it for a short time. Some metals such as copper and brass can react with acids or salts to create discoloration or undesirable compounds.
- Finally, make sure to store finished, canned pickles in a cool, dark place. This is because heat and light may reduce color and quality.
Many tested, safe pickle and relish recipes can be found in So Easy to Preserve, a book available for order from the University of Georgia Extension Service at setp.uga.edu. Other recipes tested at the University of Georgia can be found on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website at nchfp.uga.edu.
Adapted from Elizabeth Andress, UGA Cooperative Extension.
The University of Georgia College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, Veteran, Disability Institution.
Candace Tucker is the Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) Agent for University of Georgia (UGA) Cooperative Extension Coweta County. Her role involves providing Coweta residents unbiased, research-based information on health, nutrition, financial management, home safety and family relationships through educational programs and community outreach.
Photo Credit: The National Center for Home Food Preservation