Hi there and welcome back to the Gubba podcast. I’m Gubba a first time homesteader following in the footsteps of my homesteading forbears. In the Gubba podcast I discuss food storage, emergency preparedness, homesteading and everything in between. This week I would like to talk about food preservation and, specifically, pickling.
It is pickling season as fresh produce begins to line the shelves at the store and your counter, pickling is the easiest form of food preservation and is incredibly tasty. Seriously, if I can do it you can do it and I believe that. I’ve been participating in a local farm share where I get fresh farm produce weekly. To be honest, I signed up for it a few months ago for this summer, and I have so much product that a lot of it is going to my chickens and neighbors weekly. What the chickens, I, or my neighbors don’t eat, I pickle. So far I have pickled radishes and asparagus—both delicious!
Pickling makes eating vegetables easier. I don’t know about you but I’m not a big vegetable person even though I was vegetarian for 10 years, vegetables just aren’t my favorite. Pickling makes them edible and delicious and so versatile. Sure you could throw asparagus on your breakfast burrito but would you want to? Probably not. Pickled asparagus on the other hand, heck yeah! I literally had pickled radishes on my breakfast burrito last night and I put pickled asparagus on my breakfast burrito this morning.
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What is pickling?
Pickling is a way to preserve your food and extend the shelf life of it. I make pickled eggs which is just hard boiled eggs immersed in a salt vinegar solution and they last for a few months in the fridge. Most definitely they don’t last for a few months, but it’s neat to have options of how to preserve the food you have.
What are different food preservation methods?
There are different methods of food preservation besides pickling: canning, freezing, mylar bags, freeze drying, etc. What is exciting about pickling through is that because it is a fermentation in an acidic brine, pickling alters the taste and texture of the food that you are pickling. Would I ever normally eat radishes, no. Would I eat pickled radishes? Heck yeah, I was eating them straight out of the jar because they were so freaking delicious.
How do you pickle vegetables?
Trust me, when I say it is easy—it is so dang easy. You literally place your vegetables in a jar, pour in some pickling spices, and cover with a hot a brine. Allow the vegetables to pickle in the fridge for a few days or so, and boom you’re done. For my pickled eggs, I let them pickle for about a month. My pickled radishes pickled overnight and my pickled asparagus pickled for about a week. I will be honest though, I cheated and put the pickled asparagus that had only pickled overnight on my burrito this morning, and it was still delicious. Generally, the longer the vegetables have to pickle the better they taste.
How long do pickled foods last?
Depending on how your prepare and store your pickled foods, they can last for a long time. Pickled eggs can last for months in the fridge. If you decide to use a canner with your pickled good, they can last longer than a few months and will be shelf stable as long as you follow safe canning procedures. I personally haven’t canned any pickled goods just because I haven’t had a massive abundance of produce. Instead, I have been give a bunch of asparagus like what you get at the store and a bunch of radish. These have only yielded small amounts to pickle with so I haven’t bothered to go the extra mile to can them. If I had a lot of a pickleable produce—I probably would go the extra mile to can them and line my shelf with some pickled goods. I eat my pickled goods so fast too that it makes sense to just make small batches here and there.
How do you pickle eggs? How do you pickle asparagus?
So far I have videoed me pickling eggs and me pickling asparagus. The only difficulty that you will see I had in the pickling egg video is pealing the dang eggs. That took forever. I don’t think the asparagus video is out yet by the time I release this podcast, but it will be soon. Asparagus was incredibly simple. I cut the asparagus to the size of the wide mouth pint canning jars, poured in spices, covered in brine, and placed in the fridge. That was it.
What do you need to pickle?
For pickling, you will need the vegetable you want to pickle, vinegar, water, sugar which is optional because you may not like to have a sweet brine, salt, canning jars a funnel maybe, and lids. Having canning supplies on hand is always a bonus in case you want to take the extra step and can your pickled goods.
Pickling is a great and easy way to store vegetables that are on the verge of going bad. I had my asparagus for about a week and I noticed the stalks going a bit limp so an easy way to deal with that was to pickle and end up with some cute decoration for my fridge or shelf. Have I mentioned how pretty pickled items are? If not, the finished projects are super pretty. I hate to waste food, and it is hard for me to admit but I pretty much eat the same things over and over and never get tired of them so this farm share has been a bit out of my comfort zone because I have been overloaded with produce each week that I normally wouldn’t eat. I’m happy though because if it wasn’t for the farm share, I never would have realized how much I love pickled radishes. Maybe this is your sign to pickle some radishes.
Other food preservation methods are great and I have been doing a lot of those as well, but pickling is quickly becoming a top favorite for me. I like things that are easy and being able to pickle something in 10 minutes is a definite plus. If I wanted to can some meat or a vegetable, it’s a lot more extensive and intense process. More dishes, more drama and I’m about the simple life. Everything has their time and place. Freeze drying is fun and there is minimal cleanup but then I have to deal with the freeze dryer heating up my house and listening to it throughout the night. Pickling this summer is the way to go. Maybe if I am feeling crazy, I will do some canning of my pickled goods. I will keep yall posted on that.
Probably the top vegetable to can is cucumbers because you know what those turn into right? Pickles! I love pickles, and that’s probably why I love pickled goods so much because they have that similar tang to pickles. Even if you don’t like pickles you might like some other pickled vegetables.
How do you make a pickling brine?
As I’ve mentioned, all pickling really involves is covering a vegetable with a brine. The brine generally consists of vinegar, water, salt, and sugar. The more you pickle foods, you will realize how you like your brine to taste. I don’t like sweet brines, so I usually minimize the amount of sugar that I put into the brine.
What do you use for pickling spice?
I love love love spicy brines, so I load up the jars with spicy pickling mix. I cheat here a bit and get a bulk mix of spicy pickling mix from the store, but you can create it with peppercorns, mustard seeds, cloves, and other spices. Again, this can be adjusted based on taste, preference, and allergies. I literally went to the bulk section of the health food store and picked up some spicy pickling mix. It lasts for a long time, but it sells out fast so since it is the beginning of the pickling season, you will want to get your pickling spices soon at the beginning of the pickling season. They sell out fast. I remember going to the store last year and the spicy pickling mix was all sold out so I had to buy the individual ingredients and that was if I could find them. You can also use fresh herbs. I have used fresh dill in pickled eggs before and it was so yummy. If you can, throw in some fresh herbs they definitely take up the pickling.
Jars are something you should always have on hand. They come in handy when you need to store foods or liquids and definitely when you are going to be preserving food.
You can also make sweeter brines, but I haven’t dove too much into that because I don’t like sweet pickled items. Again, the more you pickle and try different variations of the brines and spices you will know what you like and you can adjust. I love that about pickling—that you can adjust as you go and learn.
With canning, you can’t change much because you have to do exactly as the recipe says or you could end up with a spoiled item. Pickling, on the other hand, you can change it up. Mix and match a bit, ya know?
Well, I appreciate you tuning in today. I hope that you enjoyed my rant about pickling and how much I adore it. I’m serious, the pickled goods I have been putting on my breakfast burritos lately have been INCREDIBLE. Try some pickling! I hope you have a good day!