Pickling is a method of preservation using salt and/or vinegar. Many different foods can be pickled, and by adding various herbs and spices, the flavor possibilities are endless. Flavor intensities range from highly spiced to mild.
Equipment. Only porcelain-lined or enameled pots should be used when cooking pickles. Acids attack metal utensils and can spoil the pickles. Use a wooden spoon for stirring. Jars should be well washed and sanitized before being used.
Sealing. All pickles should be sealed air-tight, and properly processed to be safely stored for long periods. Store open containers in refrigerator.
Weak Solution Pickling. Sometimes, more delicate flavors are preferred. Though a weak vinegar solution may be used to pickle some foods, take care to ensure that the acidity remains high enough to prevent spoiling.
Traditional Methods of Preservation and Recipes
Here are some traditional recipes and methods of pickling that were commonly used in America around the 1900’s.
Green Tomato Pickle
9-10 cups green tomatoes
1 ½ cups brown sugar
½ cup salt
2 cups onions
2 tablespoons mustard seed
1 red pepper
2 tablespoons celery seed
2 green sweet peppers
vinegar (enough to cover)
Spice bag containing 6 whole cloves, 3-4 cinnamon sticks, and ½ teaspoon allspice
Slice tomatoes and onions thin. Sprinkle with ½ cup of salt and let stand overnight. In the morning, drain and rinse off the salt. Remove seeds from peppers and chop peppers fine. Put all in a pot and just cover with vinegar. Add spice bag and cook until vegetables are soft. Remove bag; add sugar, mustard seed, celery seed, and cook ten minutes more. Seal in jars.
3 cups chopped green tomatoes
3 cups chopped ripe tomatoes
2 ½ cup chopped onions
1 bunch celery, chopped with leaves
1 medium-sized red pepper
¼ cup salt
Do not peel tomatoes. Mix vegetables and salt together and let stand overnight. Drain then add:
4 cups vinegar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups sugar
¼ teaspoon cloves
¼ cup mustard seed
Cook for at least twenty minutes. Seal in jars.
Cover medium sized cucumbers with water overnight then wipe dry. Pack in jars, adding plenty of fresh dill in between. To each ½ gallon jar add 2 small red peppers, 2 bayleaves, and 2 thin slices horseradish root. To 6 quarts water add I Ib. of salt. Heat the mixture to boiling then add 1 quart vinegar. Pour hot liquid over cucumbers, covering completely. Seal tight while still hot.
Pickled Watermelon Rind
5 pounds sugar
2 ounces whole mace
2 ounces whole clove
Cut rind into one-inch pieces (don’t use pink parts of melon) and let stand in diluted vinegar - equal parts vinegar and water - to cover, for twelve hours. Boil until tender in same solution. Then drain well.
For the syrup, add five pounds of sugar and 4 cups vinegar to a large pot with the spice bag containing the whole mace and clove. Boil for five minutes. Put in melon rind and cook for a few minutes. Remove rind from syrup and put into hot jars, being careful not to break pieces. Boil syrup down until thick, pour over rind in jars and seal while hot.
Sweet Peach Pickle
8 pounds peaches
1 teaspoon allspice
4 pounds brown sugar
1 teaspoon cassia buds
4 cups vinegar
6 whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
Put spices in bag. Make syrup of sugar and vinegar.
Add spice bag and cook until syrup is thick. Peel and
stone peaches, if desired. Cook in syrup until soft. Remove
peaches from syrup without breaking, put into jars,
and pour syrup over them before refrigerating.
Sweet Pickled Cherries
12 cups red or black cherries
2 cups sugar
3 cups vinegar
¼ teaspoon ground clove
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Remove cherry pits. Combine vinegar, sugar, and
spices, and cook until syrup is thick. Pour over cherries
and simmer for three minutes. Let stand overnight and
cook again, boiling gently for ten minutes. Seal in jars.
9 cups ripe tomatoes
½ of a sweet red pepper
3 sour apples
½ tablespoon salt
1 cup onions
½ cup vinegar
1 green pepper
1/8 tablespoon cayenne
Scald tomatoes; peel and quarter. Peel, core, and finely chop apples. After removing seeds put onions and peppers in food processor to chop. Combine vegetables; add vinegar and salt and cook until vegetables are soft. Seal hot.
Salt Preserving (pickling). Some foods can be effectively stored over winter using the following method.
- Dry Pickled Beans - Select tender beans, fresh from the garden. Don’t break off ends or string. Leave whole, and wash in cold water. Spread out to dry. In a large crock, sprinkle a layer of salt in the bottom to a depth of one inch. When the beans are dry, put in a layer of beans, then a generous handful of salt. Alternate layers of beans with salt until crock is full. Cover well with salt. Put a large plate on top and weigh it down with heavy stone. Beans should keep this way all winter. To Use, take out beans as needed and wash. Remove ends, string and cut up. Put into boiling hot water and boil rapidly for fifteen minutes. Pour off water, add fresh boiling water, and cook until tender.
Pickled Beets. Cook young beets in an open kettle until soft. Plunge into cold water and slip off the skins with the fingers. Pack into jars. Fill jars with weak solution of vinegar and water. Process for one hour. Equal parts of vinegar and water give good flavor to the beets
Pickled Corn. Blanch corn on the cob in boiling water for three minutes. Plunge into cold water and cut from the cob. Pack into a small stone crock and add one cup of salt to every nine cups of corn. Mix thoroughly. Put plate on top of corn and hold down with a heavy weight. After a few days, brine from the corn should form over the rim of the plate. If not, add brine made from ½ cup of salt to one quart of cold water. Pour into the crock to cover the plate. To Use. Take out the amount of corn needed, putting the plate in place again. Rinse in cold water. Cover corn with plenty of water and bring to the boil. Then pour off the water. Repeat this process. Drain through a colander and put in the oven to dry out before using.