The age old art of preserving food in a delicious way!
Pickling is easy to do and doesn’t require any special equipment. All you need to do is sterilise some jars, add whatever your going to pickle, cover it with vinegar or brine, add some spices and leave it for a few weeks. Simple!
First prepare some jars to keep the pickles in. They need to be sterilised to cut down the risk of any bacteria being present and making your yummy, hard work go bad.
There are a couple of simple ways to do this. Start each method by washing the jars in warm, soapy water.
Clean the jars in warm soapy water. Submerge them in a large pan of clean warm water and do your best to let any air bubbles out. Slowly bring the water to a gentle boil and keep it at this temperature for about 10 minutes. Afterwards, remove the jars from the water and leave them on a clean tea towel to dry.
Clean the jars in warm soapy water. put into a pre-heated oven at 120°C (250°f) and heat for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
You can pickle just about any vegetables and even eggs, fish and meat.
Here’s an easy recipe to get you going:
Alan’s Picked Nom Noms (Onions)
- 1/2 a kilo of small onions, such as pickling onions or French shallots
- 600ml Water
- 70g Salt
- 500 ml Malt vinegar
- 2 tbsp Honey
- 1 tbsp Black pepper corns
- 1 tsp Cloves
- A few red chillies (if you like them spicy – one or two per jar should do)
- A few whole garlic cloves
- Sterilised Jars (about 1 to 1.5 litres total capacity depending on onion size)
In a saucepan combine the salt with water and bring to the boil. Once all of the salt has devolved, remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
While the brine cools begin Pealing the onions. This can be a bit of a chore but you can make it easier. Put them all in a large container and pour over boiling water. Let sit for exactly one minute and then drain. Remove the tops and tails of the onions, cutting off as little as possible. The onion skins should now slip off fairly easily.
Pop the peeled onions in a large non-metallic container and then pour in the brine. Make sure that all of the onions are covered.
Cover the container and leave it in a cool room for about 24 hours. The brine will draw excess moisture out of the onions that would otherwise make them go soggy.
Pour the vinegar into a pan and add the honey, peppercorns and cloves.
Bring the vinegar up to a boil while stirring and then remove from the heat.
Allow the vinegar to cool down for a few minutes.
Place the onions, garlic and chillies (if using) into the prepared jars and pour over the vinegar so that it covers them completely. Put the lids on and make sure they are sealed well.
Store the jars in a cool dark place for at least 2 weeks before opening. Ideally wait a month or two for the flavour to mature. They should store for at least a year like this. They can last longer, but usually they get eaten right away!
In commercial pickling, a preservative like sodium benzoate or EDTA may also be added to enhance shelf life. In fermentation pickling, the food itself produces the preservation agent, typically by a process involving Lactobacillus bacteria that produce lactic acid as the preservative agent.