Pickling Garden Vegetables

Pickling Garden Vegetables

Have you had a successful season producing healthy vegetables in your backyard garden?  If you find yourself overloaded with a variety of homegrown vegetables, then one way to preserve them throughout the rest of the year is to “pickle” them.  After the warm weather begins to cool, bring all of your garden vegetables indoors and get ready to prepare them for the long, cool months ahead.

Pickling vegetables began thousands of years ago.  It began as a way to preserve foods safely for long periods of time.  The word “pickle” comes from the Dutch word “pekel”.  The translation means “sharp in taste”.  Vinegar is usually the main ingredient of the liquid that pickled items are stored in, along with spices such as: salt, black pepper, garlic, mustard seed, cinnamon, or cloves.

There are a multitude of vegetables that can be preserved by pickling that you may have right from your garden.  Although cucumbers are the main vegetable that people think of when they think of “pickles”, other vegetables that are also delicious when pickled include: beets, zucchini, carrots, asparagus, and okra.  Pickling is a process of fermentation, and with a little bit of effort, can preserve your garden selections for many months to come.

One thing to consider while beginning the pickling process is to measure the level of acidity (or pH level) of the pickling liquid.  It is the best practice to diligently measure out the ingredients, such as vinegar, water, salt, and sugar, in order to provide a safe environment for your pickled vegetables.  The pH level should be 4.6 or lower.  If you don’t have a pH meter in your kitchen stock, you can buy one at a kitchen supply store, or search for one online.  Handheld meters are available on the market for this purpose.

It is also a good idea to use a specific salt created just for pickling or canning foods.  If you choose to use a table salt, then your pickling liquid may become cloudy.  Although your vegetables may be safe to eat then, they will not be very pleasing to your eyes.  Remember the old saying, “people eat with their eyes first”?  This means that it is best to provide nice-looking food, because often, it seems to taste better.

In the southern parts of the United States, one pickling item that is very popular is the pickled okra.  Below is a recipe that you may find useful, if you are interested in trying them.

Pickled Okra

Ingredients:

  • 1.5-pound fresh okra
  • Several whole black peppercorns
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons pickling salt

Directions:

Divide the 1.5 pounds of okra into 3 parts.  Place them into pint size, sterile

jars.  In each jar, place several peppercorns.  In a saucepan, bring the water,

vinegar, and the salt to a hard boil.  Boil the mixture for about 1 minute. 

Divide and pour the mixture evenly into the 3 jars.  Seal the jars and allow

them to rest on the counter for 10 minutes.  Store in cabinet until opened.

Once opened, place the pickled okra in the refrigerator.

This recipe is a delicious way to pickle the okra you have grown in your garden throughout the summer months, and you can enjoy them all year long.

As you can see, just because summer is coming to a close, that doesn’t mean that you have to throw out, or give away, all of your produce that you’ve worked so hard to cultivate.  You can be creative with pickling recipes and find which ones work for you, and which vegetables you think are the best to preserve.

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