Perfectly Piquant Pickles

Using the right mix of brines and spices, you can revamp your homemade pickling game with creative takes on crunchy classics.

| July/August 2019

Photo by Getty Images/zia_shusha

The current renaissance in food preservation has brought some long overdue awareness to the craft of vinegar pickling. Modern canning companies are popping up all across the globe and creating fresh, quirky, and inspired takes on the traditional pickles we know and love.

Any vegetable or fruit submerged in a vinegar brine or having vinegar added to it is in pickle territory. This includes condiments, and a myriad of fruit and vegetable pickles. While the varieties on the market are worth a try, pickles are also quite simple to make at home. There are two methods of vinegar pickling: refrigerator and fresh-pack canned. Refrigerator pickles are raw or blanched vegetables or fruits that are immersed in brine, and then placed in the fridge to cure for up to two days. Sometimes these pickles are cold-brined, which is best for very thinly cut or soft vegetables. Usually, however, we pour hot brine over the vegetables, helping the flavors to penetrate quickly.

Photo by Getty Images/Zbynek Pospisil

Two methods are used to create fresh-pack canned vinegar pickles. With hot pack, the vegetables or fruit are hot before the brine is added (usually they’re heated in the brine) and then packed into hot canning jars. With cold pack, raw or blanched vegetables are packed into hot jars and the brine is poured over. Both hot pack and cold pack are processed in a water bath canner or steam canner for a specified time. Remove the jars, place them on a folded dish towel, and leave them undisturbed until cool. Then check each jar to make sure the lid has sealed; any unsealed jars should be placed promptly into the refrigerator. Sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dry place with or without rings for up to one year.

Mix, match, and adapt the recipes below to find your preferred pickling style, and enjoy the way this preservation technique breathes new life into your garden bounty.

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