Use reputable sources for pickling recipesMaking pickles is a very popular way to use up the cucumbers you have in your garden or purchased from a farmers market. A quick Internet search can provide you with a multitude of recipes and a variety of methods for preparing pickles. However, as with all food preservation, it is important to get your recipes from reputable sources (such as a cooperative
By: Christina Rittenbach, NDSU Extension Service, The Jamestown Sun
Making pickles is a very popular way to use up the cucumbers you have in your garden or purchased from a farmers market. A quick Internet search can provide you with a multitude of recipes and a variety of methods for preparing pickles. However, as with all food preservation, it is important to get your recipes from reputable sources (such as a cooperative extension service or the National Center for Home Food Preservation) in order to ensure a safe product. Processing food incorrectly can lead to food poisoning, some of which may be deadly.
Since there are so many ways to make pickles, there are a few things that are important to keep in mind. If you intend to keep your pickles on the shelf, they must be processed. If you do not have a canner or do not want to can your pickles, they must be kept in the refrigerator to ensure safety.
One reason many people do not want to process their pickles is because the pickles end up soggy. There are a couple of tricks you can do to help firm the pickles.
1. Mix 1 cup of pickling lime and 1/2 cup of salt to 1 gallon of water in a 2- to 3-gallon crock or enamelware container. Do not use aluminum. Soak the cucumbers in the lime water for 12 to 24 hours. Remove the cucumbers from the lime solution, rinse and re-soak for one hour in fresh, cold water. Repeat the rinsing and soaking steps in fresh water two more times. Handle the pickles carefully, as they may be brittle.
2. Processing the pickles using a low-temperature pasteurization treatment can help with firmness as well. To do this, place the filled jars in a canner filled halfway with warm (120°F to 140°F) water. Add hot water to a level of 1 inch above the jars. Heat the water and maintain a 180°F water temperature for 30 minutes. Use a candy or jelly thermometer to be certain that the water temperature is at least 180°F during the entire 30 minutes. Temperatures higher than 185°F may cause unnecessary softening of the pickles.
If you have ever made pickles that ended up getting cloudy, it may be because you did not use the proper salt or spices. Be sure to use canning or pickling salt. Other salts may have a material added to them to prevent caking. This can make the brine cloudy. A cloudy brine may also be the result of using powdered spices. Use fresh, whole spices for the best flavor in pickles. The best method is to tie whole spices loosely in a cheesecloth bag, put the bag in the pickling liquid and then remove the bag before canning.
Pickles may be fermented or quick-processed. For more information on how to pickle using either of these methods, or for recipes, contact Christina Rittenbach, Stutsman County Extension Agent, at 252-9030 or firstname.lastname@example.org.