In the quick-process or
raw pack method,
vegetables and fruits are placed in a jar and a hot vinegar
solution is added. Small amounts of flavor enhancers such as
herbs, spices, garlic, or red pepper flakes are added. The
resulting high-acid pickles are then processed in a hot water
bath. After a few weeks on the shelf, the flavor of the pickle
While dill is the most common flavor of pickle, the lowly
cucumber also makes a wonderfully tart lemon pickle or a
slightly sweet bread & butter pickle. Vegetable options include
snap beans, which become dilly beans, as well as carrots,
cauliflower, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, peppers, okra and
mixtures like chow-chow. A three-bean salad is technically a
pickle which can be prepared and processed in the summer then
enjoyed all winter long.
are delightful! Pickles from cantaloupe melon, figs, pears,
apple rings and watermelon rind are common favorites. The
vinegar syrup usually has added sugar and is spiced with
cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and/or ginger.
relish is a pickle that is chopped rather than whole or sliced.
And while the cucumber is a common base ingredient, relishes
come in all sorts of flavors and colors: sweet red pepper
relish, onion relish, corn relish, fennel relish, beet/cabbage
relish and sweet apple relish - a perfect accompaniment to pork
a relish of Indian origin, utilize mangos or apples and can be
easily prepared in the home kitchen.
Whatever form of pickle you chose to create, there are a few
rules that you must follow to ensure success and safety. Always
use research-based recipes and methods developed by food
scientists at the USDA, the Land Grant Universities (like Penn
State), or the Ball Corporation. Circumventing these techniques
puts the safety of your family and friends at risk. A list of
reliable sources for home pickling can be found at the end of
Harvests & Farm Market Produce
Use the best-quality firm, fresh produce, at peak ripeness.
Process your produce immediately after harvest to ensure flavor,
texture and nutrient-retention. Adhere to the recommendations in
the recipe, which may include varietal and size recommendations.
For cucumbers, use pickling cucumbers of similar size and make
sure you cut 1/16-inch from the blossom-end of the cucumber
because inherent enzymes will age and soften your pickles.
Crops from the home garden should be harvested in the morning
after the dew has dried, but before the heat of the day has
warmed the produce or herb. Travel with the
Ball Blue Book
in hand and look for prime produce at local farm markets and
garden stands. You can then search for an appealing recipe and
purchase the proper quantity of produce and recommended herbs.
Salt & Vinegar Choices
Use only canning & pickling salt which is free of additives that
may make your pickles cloudy. Do not alter the food, vinegar or
water proportions in the recipe. Purchase commercially bottled
vinegars of known acidity –
5% is the standard.
White vinegar has neutral flavor, a sharper bite maintains the
white color of pickled cauliflower. Apple cider vinegar is
flavorful and a bit milder, but it can darken the color of the
vegetable or fruit pickle.
One acceptable recipe change is tweaking the minor additions of
herbs and spices or swapping an herb or spice for another to
personalize your pickles. Do follow the rules, but have fun
exploring the possibilities in creating a pantry of delicious,
colorful and nutritious pickles. Happy pickling!
The most up-to-date research-based
methods and recipes:
Food Preservation-Penn State Extension:
Blue Book Guide to Preserving:
National Center for Home Food Preservation:
Garden Plans for Preserving