ELLICSR Can Pickle That!

Written By Geremy Capone

It may seem hard to believe but there was a time you couldn’t buy fresh eggplant or watermelon in the middle of January. It used to be that pickling and preserving were the only ways to keep most fruits and vegetables edible during the cold, barren months of a Canadian winter.

But the times they are a-changing. With new technologies and mass food producing practices, we now have access to almost any ingredient 365 days out of the year. Pickling has become obsolete, though there are people (like me) who believe that preserving foods at their peak of flavor captures the best of the ingredients.

There are a few other pickling enthusiasts among the UHN Real Food Garden volunteers, so I held an outdoor pickling workshop to preserve some of our produce!

With just a few tools and ingredients, you can do your own quick pickling. You’ll need vinegar, whole spices, fresh produce, and sanitized mason jars. Here’s the quickle on our basic pickling principles.

Pickle wash

What kind of vinegar should I use? You need vinegar with at least 5% acetic acid to keep the harmful bacteria away. Your classic white vinegar or apple cider vinegar is a good place to start.

Pickle vinegar

What flavours do I add? This is where it gets fun. You can’t go wrong with most whole spices, pick your favorite! We used some of the more common pickling spices like dill seed, coriander seed, black peppercorn, mustard seed, bay leaves, allspice, and a few chili flakes. Fresh dill and fennel tops also provide a nice touch.

Image of pickled spices

What can I pickle? Fans of the comedy TV show Portlandia will remember the sketch with a farming duo that pickled everything from eggs to cd-cases (crunchy!). There is some truth behind this sketch; you can pickle almost anything… any food, anyway. Tomatoes, beets and even plums all preserve well. We chose a variety of veggies for our pickles including our late harvest cherry tomatoes.

Image of pickled food in mason jars

How long will they keep? For long-term preservation, follow proper USDA canning procedure. Or for a quick pickle like we did, try our recipe for a Zesty Refrigerator Pickle. They’ll last for about 2 months in the refrigerator.

Can you pickle that!? Send us a photo of your crispy creations.

For any other culinary questions please feel free to email me at geremy@ellicsrkitchen.ca or tweet me @ELLICSRKitchen. Also don’t forget to check out our website full of delicious recipes, videos and nutrition tips at the ELLICSR Kitchen.

Yours in good eats,