Try Pickling to Preserve Perishables

| August/September 2007

Juicy, crunchy, homemade pickles have a long, rich history, and pickled cuisine pops up in cultures across the globe. You can find pickled onion on menus in British pubs, pickled ginger served with sushi in Japan, and pickled peppers (perchance picked by Peter Piper) spicing up Mexican salsas.

Yes, you can pickle just about anything from your garden, and not only does pickled produce make a tasty, unique addition to your veggie tray, but pickling is also a great way to stretch your summer harvest into the colder months.

To 'pickle' something means to raise its acidity enough to kill bacteria that cause spoilage. The process works using heat and the preservative properties of salt and vinegar. Canning is easy and inexpensive, even for beginners. All you'll need is a water bath canner (available where cooking appliances are sold), a Mason jar (available at grocery or hardware stores), a few simple ingredients and a bit of patience as your pickles take a few weeks preparing themselves for prime crunch time. For more information, see Learn to Can for Homegrown Flavor.

Below are some traditional recipes adapted from that are sure to get you into a delicious pickle.

Dill Pickles
Dill pickles will keep up to two years if stored in a cool, dry place.

1 pound of 3 to 4 inch long pickling cucumbers
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp pickling salt
2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 sprig fresh dill weed
1 head fresh dill weed  

5/24/2011 7:24:33 PM

I've been making bread and butter pickles for yrs and have a tip I'd like to share. You can use your favorite pickle recipe, be it sweet or dill but substitute or just include yellow or zucchini squash as a mix with the cucumbers. I liked the yellow squash pickles so much that I just use them by themselves, with onion and bell pepper slices. One thing though, just use young, small, tender squash, no more then probably 6 in. If your family likes stewed squash like mine do, you can just use the necks of the yellow squash and the rest for frying. If using the necks only you can use somewhat larger squash, as long as they're still tender. Try adding a few squash to your next batch, I think you'll love them as much as I do.

9/3/2007 12:00:00 AM

TChildress -- thank you for catching our error. We regret the mix-up and have fixed the text above.

tyler childress_1
8/25/2007 12:00:00 AM

In your article on pickling, you stated:''To "pickle" something means to lower its acidity enough to kill bacteria that cause spoilage'The opposite is true. Pickling increases the acidity to kill microorganisms. The pH is lowered. Low-acid pickles can harbor dangerous pathogens.

sue h
8/24/2007 12:00:00 AM

I overheard a canning conversation the other day and I wonder if other people have used this method for canning tomatoes. You sterilize your mason jars and lids, cold pack the tomatoes, put on lids and put them in a 200 degree oven for 2 hours and leave in the oven overnight. There you have it.

mother earth news fair


Oct. 21-22, 2017
Topeka, KS.

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!