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Pickling

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A method to preserve fruits, vegetables and meat in a vinegar or brine mixture that is then heat processed in boiling water so the pickled food can be stored for longer lengths of time. When foods are to be pickled, they should be taken from a garden and pickled within 24 hours after picking. It is best to harvest the foods when they are at the most tender stage of their development, selecting the items that have the best quality. A standard procedure for pickling may involve pre-cooking, blanching and raw packing in cans or jars. Some vegetables such as carrots, string beans, mushrooms, onions, and zucchini are raw packed. However asparagus is blanched prior to canning while beets are kept unskinned and pre-cooked for 30 minutes when pickling.

Vinegar is used to add flavor and to assist with the perserving process. For vegetables and fruits that are white or light colored, use a white distilled vinegar so it does not discolor the food. Otherwise, cider vinegar can be used for other darker colored foods. In addition, a pickling salt (also known as canning salt) is required for the brine . Pickling salt is a very pure, fine-grained salt, which is produced without any additives such as iodine or anti-caking chemicals. Since traditional salts contain anti-caking chemicals they cause a cloudy effect in the brine solution and are not suggested for use when pickling.

To enhance the flavor of the pickled food, a pickling spice may also be added, which is a blend of spices that may typically include cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and peppercorns. In addition, ingredients such as allspice berries, bay leaves, ginger, mace, red pepper flakes, dill seeds, fennel seeds, and mustard seeds may also be added to the spice. Pickling spice can be purchased as a blended mixture of specific spices or made by adding individual spices with the amounts desired. Since pickling spices are most often simmered in a liquid base, the spice ingredients can remain whole, such as peppercorns, seeds and berries, and placed in a cheesecloth bag.

USDA Nutrition Facts

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