Pickling: It's not just for cucumbers anymore
Vegetables from asparagus to zucchini can be home preserved by pickling. The key is to select a recipe from an approved source that is specifically designed for the vegetable you are pickling. Follow the directions carefully for a safe, high quality product.
- Begin by selecting tender vegetables and plan to pickle within 24 hours of picking.
- Wash well and drain.
- Pickled vegetable recommendations vary widely on the need for a first step of blanching, pre-cooking or raw packing.
- Asparagus is blanched.
- Beets need to be pre-cooked in their skins for 30 minutes.
- Green beans, carrots, onions, mushrooms, and zucchini are raw packed.
Cider vinegar has a good flavor and aroma, but may darken white or light-colored vegetables. White distilled vinegar is used for onions and cauliflower where clearness of color is desired. The ratio of vinegar to water varies by the vegetable; again select a recipe for the vegetable you are pickling. Some vegetables such as onions, mushrooms, and artichokes are pickled in straight vinegar with no additional water.
Use fresh whole spices for the best quality and flavor in pickles.
Salt and spices
Pickling or canning salt should be used, because other salts contain anti-caking materials that may make the brine cloudy. Use white sugar unless the recipe calls for brown sugar. If you plan to use a sugar substitute, follow recipes developed for these products. Use fresh whole spices for the best quality and flavor in pickles. Powdered spices may cause the product to darken and become cloudy.
Pickled vegetable recipes are developed for pint or ½ pint canning jars. The water bath processing time is determined by the acid level of the vegetable and the pickling solution and the size of jar. Water bath processing times range from 5 minutes to 30 minutes to insure a safe home canned product. Many fresh pack pickles can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks without heat processing. However, discard if you see any signs of spoilage.
Reviewed by Suzanne Driessen, University of Minnesota Extension educator, 2010.