When spring time came around this part of Virginia, (that’s Northern VA for me) all I kept hearing was it’s that time again, fruits and veggies are growing time to pick, preserve and pickle. Now if you have been following my story you’ll know I am new to all of this. I’m just a big city girl living in a small city learning all about farming, farm to table eating, preserving, pickling just healthy fresh eating. It’s actually really interesting, and it feels good knowing where all my stuff comes from and what goes into it. Last month I took a crack at making strawberry jam and that came out great, now It’s time to pickle!
So, before I started pickling I wanted to find out more about the science behind the process, what was this all about? Now, because it is summertime and to me its sandwich season I wanted to make kosher dill pickles and a sweet pepper mix to put on my sandwiches. Ok, so the science, there are 2 methods for pickling one ensures preserving by immersing the produce into an acidic solution such as vinegar like dill pickles and Mexican escabeche. The other a much older method is fermentation caused by a chemical reaction between naturally present bacteria and a foods sugars, like kimchi. Pickling is kind of a controlled decay, when living organisms die they start several responses in the tissue that activate the release of enzymes that start to breakdown the veggies. The acid from the vinegar along with naturally forming acid in the process slows down the decaying process. There are also certain salts, especially those containing calcium that will help keep some of the crunchiness of the pickle, which you’ll find in commercial pickles. But, this is why we can pickle vegetables in summer and enjoy them in the winter.
It wasn’t difficult at all to make the the sweet pepper mix really the whole process took me about an hour to do. It’s just a matter of simmering the jars and then boiling after they are full. I honestly find canning to be very relaxing similar to gardening for some people, I just get into a zone and when I’m done I have a pantry full of preserved goodness. Of course the kosher dill pickles were the easiest of all to make they just required heating of the pickling liquid and pouring it over the cucumbers, same canning process. I love kosher dill pickles so much I had to make them. They remind me of when I was a teenager in New York an I would go to the Village in Manhattan, They had stores you could go into that sold pickles out of barrels. So many different kinds, kosher dill, garlic, bread and butter, hot pickles the list went on, but they were so good. My friends and I would stop in buy pickles and shop the vintage stores. There really isn’t anything like a freshly pickled cucumber.
So, peter piper picked a pack of pickled peppers, just how many was that? Who knows? I know that I’ve packed a few and eaten a lot of them from little Gershwin’s which are such a great snack to the big ole’ barrel pickled ones. I know they are great on burgers and hot dogs and sometimes in potato salad for that extra zest. Don’t forget the sweet pepper mix, the sweet and spicy of the jalapenos and sweet peppers is a wonderful compliment to any Italian hero (sub, hoagie…). Either way, give it a try I don’t think you will be disappointed.