Opening the fridge, unscrewing the lid on a jar of cool, briny pickled vegetables, picking one out and biting into it, hearing the crunch and savouring the flavour is perhaps one of life's most underrated pleasures.
Don't believe us? Keep reading.
Do you ever eat some dishes and wonder where all the flavour is coming from? We do and we've spent a long time (too much time) figuring out that sometimes a crunchy, pickled vegetable is all that's needed to take your cooking to the next level!
From pickled tomatoes for taco toppings to chopped, pickled carrots for a nice, tasty salad, pickled vegetables can be used in just about anything. The trick is to create an environment that harmful bacteria will hate while preserving the integrity of the vegetables. This might sound a little difficult but we're here to walk you through the steps, let you in on all the secrets and tell you how to make the most out of your preserved veggies!
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU START
- Water: The quality of the water you use can impact the pickling process and may prove to discolour your vegetables over time. Try to use purified water for the best result.
- Vinegar: If you plan on storing your pickled vegetables in the fridge then vinegars like white wine or apple cider are perfect. However, if you plan on canning your vegetables, then you need to use a vinegar that's at least 5% acetic acid. If you're having trouble with this, the percentage is often listed on the bottle of vinegar but just be aware, if there's more water than vinegar in your brine then it may not be suitable for canning.
- Salt: Try to use pure sea salt without any additives as additives can make the brine cloudy.
PICK YOUR EQUIPMENT
Before you get started it's important to have all your equipment ready to go, especially if you need to sterilise your jars.
We recommend using a product like the Kilner Genuine Preserve Jars to pickle your vegetables in. Made from high-quality glass and featuring a vacuum seal, you can now preserve to your heart's content.
These jars also have a 2 part lid, the top part has the seal and is replaced EVERY TIME YOU PRESERVE, and the rims are used up to 10 times before they are recycled. The glass can be used over and over as long as it is not damaged.
*Pro Tip*, inspect all preserving jars each time before you use them and discard any that are chipped or damaged as this can affect your finished product.
STERILISE YOUR JARS
Sterilisation is the process of killing any harmful bacteria that may be clinging to the surface and insides of your jar. This is done so that when you're preserving, your food will remain fresher within the vacuum seal and retain its flavour.
There are a few ways to go about sterilising your jars but before you start, make sure you're beginning the sterilisation process a short time before you begin preserving so that the jars are still warm when you go to fill them.
We recommend using the water bath method.
- Remove the lids or rubber seals from your jars and put them to one side.
- Place a heat resistant plate upside down in the bottom of your pan then place the jars inside.
- Fill the pan with cold water until the jars are completely covered. Bring it to the boil and keep it at the maximum temperature for 10 minutes, then turn the heat off and cover the pan to keep the jars warm until you are ready to fill them. Alternatively, you can take them out of the water and pop them in a warm oven to dry and remain warm until you're ready to use them.
- Place the vacuum seal lids or rubber seals in a small pan and fill it with around 10cm of water, heat and simmer at 26ºC for 10 minutes, then turn the heat off and cover the pan until you're ready to seal the jars.
PREPARE YOUR VEGETABLES
Wash and chop your veggies into whatever shape you'd like them to be pickled in. This can include:
Slice: Try to slice firm vegetables thinly and soft vegetables thickly to help preserve their shape during fermentation.
Grate: You should be grating hard or crunchy vegetables (such as zucchini) if you want to ferment them. These vegetables often have a texture of a relish once finished.
Chop: It's obviously up to you how you want to chop your vegetables but bite-sized pieces usually work better. Try fermenting chopped cauliflower or carrot for the perfect, healthy snack!
Whole: Small vegetables such as Brussel sprouts, radishes, and green beans work best when they remain whole.
DIVIDE YOUR VEGETABLES + ADD FLAVOURING
Once you've finished preparing them, divide the vegetables among your sterilised jars (this obviously depends on how much you plan on preserving).
Now you can add either fresh or dry flavouring to your vegetables (or you can skip this step if you want to). Don't be afraid to experiment a little! Some of our favourite flavourings to try include.
- 1 sprig fresh Oregano
- 2-4 sprigs sliced or whole Dill
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1-3 small whole Dried Chile peppers
- 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
- 1/2-1 whole large clove, sliced Garlic
PREPARE YOUR BRINE
You need enough brine to submerge your vegetables completely. In order to achieve the perfect fermentation process, you need a 2% brine. The best way to think about this is, for every 100 grams of vegetables, you should add 2 grams of salt.
To complete the brine you must use filtered water that's free from chlorine or fluoride.
FILL THE JARS
Carefully fill your jars with the brine mixture, leaving about 1 and a half cm at the top. Make sure your vegetables are fully submerged in the brine then place the lids on the jars and pop them in the fridge for at least 24 hours before serving them but depending on the level of flavour you want, you can leave them up to 10 weeks to mature. Check-in on them every 3 days or so to check the flavour.
Your pickled vegetables can last for up to 1 month in the fridge so you can enjoy your culinary creations for many meals to come!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What's the difference between sweet and clear pickles?
Clear pickles are made up of vegetables that have been left raw and whole with the main ingredients added being vinegar, salt with a hint of herbs and other spices.
Sweet pickles are a mix of lightly cooked vegetables (that are generally kept in large pieces) and sweet vinegar. The most common spices to be used when making sweet pickles are ginger, all spice and cloves.
Can you pickle with just vinegar?
Yes you can! Vinegar-based pickles are the most common form of pickling. Cut vegetables are submerged injust boiledvinegar brine. This process destroys the natural culture and rich enzymes and the acidic nature of denaturedvinegar does the preserving.
Which vinegar is best for pickling?
Apple cider vinegar is a good choice for many pickles. It has a mellow, fruity flavour that blends well with spices, however, it will darken most vegetables and fruits. Cider vinegar may be substituted for white vinegar of the same acidity.
What is chutney?
Chutney is a sharp, sweet, rich and highly spiced preserve made using a mixture of both vegetables and fruits which is cooked for a long time. The vegetables and fruits need to be cut into small pieces so the consistency is easy to smooth and spread.
Serves: 5 Genuine Preserve Jars - 250ml
- 1.6kg of organic marrow
- 300g organic sultanas
- 4 shallots
- 1 tbsp grated organic fresh ginger, peeled
- 2 organic garlic cloves
- 400g brown soft sugar
- 2 large apples, cored, chopped & peeled
- 375ml organic cider vinegar
- 1.5 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp chopped chillies
- 1 tsp paprika
- Peel and cube the marrows and sprinkle them generously with salt before covering them and placing them in the fridge overnight.
- Rinse them very well the next day and place into a pan. Add all the other ingredients and slowly bring the mixture to the boil.
- Lower the heat and let it simmer for about 1-2 hours or until you see the consistency thicken. Stir occasionally.
- When you are about 10 minutes from what you'd like the consistency to be, sterilise your Kilner jars (using the process mentioned above), pour the chutney in and seal.
- Leave the chutney in the fridge for at least 24 hours before serving however the chutney may take 10 weeks to reach the level of flavour you're after. Keep checking in on your chutney every few days. This chutney will last in the fridge for up to 2 months.