Source: Donna Reynolds, Extension Daily
Many people enjoy pickles as an addition to a meal or as a refreshing snack. Making homemade pickles may sound difficult or time consuming, but there are quick options available to use at home. Angela Treadaway, an Alabama Extension food safety and quality regional agent, said one process, called quick-pack “is one that anyone who does home food preservation can get done in a few hours.”
There are several different ways to make pickled foods. Nearly any type of food can be pickled.
Treadaway said there are four basic types of pickles: brined or fermented, fresh pack or quick process, fruit pickles and relishes. All types of are better when allowed to stand for several weeks after processing. This allows the flavors to develop to the fullest extent.
Brined or fermented pickles take longer because the product is brined or cured over a three to six week period of time in a high salt solution (brine). With these pickles the cucumber has color changes – the green goes to an olive or yellow-green and the inside changes from white to translucent.
Quick process pickles are not fermented. There are two ways to make this type. One method requires soaking them in a low-salt solution for several hours or overnight to draw some of the salt from the cells; then drain and process them with vinegar, spices and seasonings.
A second type of fresh-pack pickle calls for cooking the vegetable with vinegar and spices, then packaging and processing the product immediately. Beet pickles, bread-and-butter pickles, pickled asparagus or green beans use the fresh-pack method.
These are just what the name implies, fruits simmered in spicy syrup then packed and processed. Watermelon rind pickles fall into this category.
Relishes are mixtures of fruits and/or vegetables that are chopped, seasoned and cooked in a vinegar and spice solution then packed and processed.
Yield: 7 to 9 pints
Procedure: Wash cucumbers. Cut 1/16-inch slice off blossom end and discard, but leave ¼-inch of stem attached. Dissolve ¾ cup of salt in 2 gallons of ice water. Pour over cucumbers and let stand for 12 hours. Drain. Combine vinegar, ½ cup salt, sugar and 2 quarts of water. Add mixed pickling spices tied in a clean white cloth. Heat to boiling. Fill jars with cucumbers. Add 1 tsp mustard seed and 1½ heads fresh dill per pint. Cover with boiling pickling solution, leaving ½-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process or use the low-temperature pasteurization treatment. To process without low-temperature pasteurization, process in a waterbath canner. Process pints for 10 minutes and quarts for 15 minutes.
For more information, Alabama Extension has the publication “Pickles and Relishes.” It goes over some of the basic information about pickles and preservation. For further information, visit Alabama Extension online or contact your county Extension office.