by Shelly Barnes, Extension Agent, Family, and Consumer Sciences, Wilson County, TN
School is back in session, but summer doesn’t have to end. The delicious fruits and vegetables of summer can last all year with food preservation. Pickling is one way to preserve the summer harvest.
Whether you are pickling fruit or vegetables, always select produce that is fresh, firm and free of spoilage. You can use odd-shaped or more mature cucumbers for relishes and bread-and-butter style pickles. After washing your cucumbers, cut 1/16-inch slice off the blossom end to help with firmness.
In addition to cutting off the blossom end, there are also firming agents that can be used but are not required. Alum (Potassium Aluminum Sulfate) is a food additive that can help to create a crisp pickled product. It can be safely used in fermented pickles, but it does not improve the firmness in quick-process pickles. Calcium can also increase firmness. You can use pickling lime or other calcium-based pickling products. If using pickling lime, it is important to remove excess lime by rinsing and re-soaking the cucumbers.
As you select your other ingredients, use canning or pickling salt. Other salts may have non-caking materials added that can make the brine cloudy. White distilled and cider vinegars with 5% acidity are recommended, but white vinegar is usually used due to the color.
You may also wonder about different pickle processes. Regular dill pickles are fermented and cured for about three weeks. Refrigerator dill pickles are fermented for one week. Fresh pack or quick-process pickles are not fermented. You can find safe, tested recipes for each type of procedure from USDA and the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Through its land-grant mission of research, teaching, and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions.
UT Extension offers Extension Explores, a live food preservation class on Zoom on the third Friday of each month. Learn more here.
UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the Institute of Agriculture. With an office in every Tennessee county, UT Extension delivers educational programs and research-based information to citizens throughout the state and provides equal opportunities in all programming and employment. In cooperation with Tennessee State University, UT Extension works with farmers, families, youth, and communities to improve lives by addressing problems and issues at the local, state, and national levels.
For more information on this or other food-related topics, contact Shelly Barnes, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent for UT Extension in Wilson County. Barnes may be reached at (615) 444-9584 or [email protected]