We’re all familiar with pickles—cucumbers preserved in brine with dill and some other spices. But you can pickle almost any vegetable, from asparagus to zucchini, and make the most of the work you did in your garden or the veggies you bought at your local farmers’ market.
Before we get going on the how-tos, though, let’s briefly define pickling. Pickling is the art of adding an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice to low-acid vegetables, in order to lower their pH (acid-alkaline balance) to an acidic 4.6 or lower. This preserves the vegetables and can add some really delightful taste.
You’ll need a little bit of hardware to pickle your veggies: A boiling-water canner (a large lidded pot with a jar rack) designed to hold seven quart-size jars or eight to nine pint-size jars in boiling water.
You’ll also need canning jars with new lids. Do not use recycled household jars; they may break or the seals may not seal properly, thus ruining all your hard work.
Before you start your pickling, buy canning or pickling salt. The difference between pickling salt and table salt is that pickling salt has no additives. Iodized table salt could change the color and/or texture of your veggies and could make the brine cloudy.
Another crucial part of the brine is white distilled or cider vinegar with 5 percent acidity. We recommend using white vinegar for lighter-colored veggies like cauliflower or golden beets, as cider vinegar could lend the final product a brownish color.
When you choose vegetables to pickle, be sure to use fresh vegetables. Wax-coated veggies will not take the brine as well and will probably taste odd when you go to eat them.
For more very important tips on pickling vegetables and great pickle recipes, visit The Old Farmer’s Almanac.