Survival Skill – Pickling

Mmmm.. the delightful smell of simmering vinegar, dill and mustard seed. It’s a smell that never fails to transport me back to my childhood, being driven out of the house by the smell of my mother’s day-long pickling marathons. The smell may be identical, but our pickling styles are different. I use more garlic than she did. And I generally can in smaller batches I think. Her’s didn’t seem to descend to rum drinking as quickly as mine do. But, maybe she was a nice southern gal and she waited until her children were in bed before breaking into the drink.  :-D

In all seriousness, you should make sure pickling is a part of your food storage skills. It’s a really old method of preserving, one that takes advantage of natural elements and can be done with really low energy inputs.  The vinegar and salt of the pickling solution form an environment that is too harsh for the human killing bugs to survive in. Pickling has crossed into many different food cultures. There are the chutneys in India, and the saurkraut in Germany. Kimchi, relish, kosher dill, sweets…..  I love them all. Most recipes are great bounty-busters. If you’ve got too much of a good thing, and need to get it put away cheap and fast, vinegar, salt and sugar are as quick and cheap as it gets. Differing the spice choices and fermenting times gives you a wide range of tastes to choose from, giving you a final product that best suits your needs. Don’t mess around with the vinegar ratios though, the acidity is what’s keeping the botulism at bay.

While I’m busy cleaning up the explosion of dill seeds in my kitchen, (what, normal people don’t let their 3 year old play with the dry dill heads?) Enjoy some pickling recipes.  Go crazy this summer and experiment with pickled and fermented foods. They are good for you and great additions to storage food.

Kimchi –

  • 2 heads Napa cabbage
  • 1 or 2 daikon radishes
  • 1 1/4 cups sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 5 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 small white onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 5 tablespoons Korean chile powder – in my experience, optional. It won’t have as big a kick, but it is kinder on my tastebuds if I sub in a smaller portion of a more familiar chile powder.

Wash and salt the veg. Give it 6 hours in the salt. Mix together the spices, coat the leaves with it. (Use gloves to protect your hands.) Let it ferment for 4 days. A large crock is good for this, or a large glass bowl, use what you have.

Pickled Green Beans (Dilly Beans) –

  • 2 1/2 pounds fresh green beans
  • 2 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 bunch fresh dill weed
  • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Boil everything but the green beans, pack them raw into hot jars.  Ladle the simmering liquid onto the beans, hot water bath.

Pickled carrots –

A great example of small batch pickling. She’s pickling 1 pound of carrots, and this little bit of food preservation can be done in as little as 10 minutes. Plus, Marisa is a fun read, even about something as straight forward as pickling.

Go forth, and pickle something!

-Calamity Jane