Just so we’re not misleading anyone: This is not a laundry list of pickling recipes, but a way to say that pickling things is so straightforward you can use the same method for pretty much any food and the result will be yummy pickled goodness.
This is because, at the base level, pickling only requires three things: salt or vinegar (or a combination of the two) and water. That’s it. Now that you have the ingredients, just follow these tips and you’re destined for pickling glory.
<strong>1. Pickle fresh things.</strong>
The whole idea of pickling is to preserve the item being pickled at the peak of its freshness. And, that’s not gonna happen if you pickle it on the downslope. So, make sure your foods are crisp when they go in and they’ll be crisp when they come out.
<strong>2. Use the “right” kind of salt.</strong>
The “right” kind of salt is any salt besides table salt or sea salt. Table salt contains additives that won’t dissolve and sea salt contains unknown minerals that could add a flavor to your pickling you don’t want.
Kosher salt and pickling salt are good because they will fully dissolve without adding any unpredictable flavor.
<strong>3. Use distilled or boiled water.</strong>
Chances are your tap water tastes funny, which is to say it’s got too much sulfur, too much chlorine or is hard with minerals of other types. All of these things can throw your pickling out of whack.
To avoid this, always use distilled water or boil your tap water and then let it sit to cool overnight before using it. This will ensure you’re getting fresh, pure water that will allow the flavor of your pickling to shine through.
<strong>4. Make sure your “add-ons” are also very fresh.</strong>
Add-ons are the little extras you may put in the mix: garlic, dill, cayenne and the like. Make sure these are as fresh as the things you’re pickling.
Keep these tips in mind and you can’t go wrong with your next pickling project. And, if you’re looking for even more in-depth information, you may be surprised to know that your tax dollars help fund the National Center for Home Food Preparation – a full-blown organization under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) dedicated to making sure you know how to pickle stuff.
Follow <a title="USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning" href="http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html" target="_blank">this link</a> to get more info and to download your free copy of the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning.