Pickling is a great way to store food without the need of refrigeration or sacrificing taste. As you’ll see, you can easily pickle meat, eggs and vegetables for future use.
When people think of pickling, they always think of pickled cucumbers. Actually, pickling is the process of anaerobic fermentation. This is a chemical process where food is preserved in an environment high in acidity and devoid of oxygen.
When a brine (salt and water) or vinegar is added to a food source – and no oxygen is present – the acidity is naturally increased, preserving the food. Sauerkraut, kimchee and yogurt are all examples of lactic acid fermentation (a type of anaerobic fermentation) where no outside acid (such as vinegar) is added. It’s created naturally.
You’ve heard of corned beef, right? Well, that’s pretty much what we’re going to do here.
Back in the days before refrigeration, harvested meat would spoil quickly. Pickling – or corning (called this because of the corn-shaped pieces of salt that were used) – would preserve the meat until it was ready to be cooked.
Understand that this process only preserves the meat for future use – it is not ready to eat after the pickling/corning. It must be cooked before consuming!
Start with a gallon of water in a stew pot and put it over high heat. When the water is at a rolling boil, add in ¼ pound of sugar, and 1 1/2 pounds of non-iodized salt. That may seem like a lot of salt, but it’s essential to keeping the meat from going bad.
As you continue to boil the ingredients, a thick foam should appear at the top. Scoop it away and get rid of it. Then take the pot off the heat and let it cool down to room temperature.
Now, after it has sufficiently cooled, pour the entire mixture into a large enough crock (non-metalic) to hold it and however much meat you can fit in the crock (this should be enough liquid for about 5 pounds of meat). You can use any kind you want, but pork, beef and venison are the most common kinds. To ensure the meat stays submerged, place a cover on the crock pot and weigh it down.
After 7 days, you’ll have a beautifully pickled source of protein. Remember to cook it before you eat it! You can also keep the mixture and use it again later by adding about 1/2 more pound of salt. Then just follow the same process.
Pickling Green Beans
Now let’s look at how you can keep tasty green beans for up to five years.
Ingredients and Equipment
- 4 lbs of green beans
- 6 tablespoons of salt
- 18 whole black peppercorns
- 6 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
- 1.5 teaspoon dried red pepper
- 1 tablespoon dill seed
- 1 tablespoon mustard seed
- 3 cups of water
- 8 peeled garlic cloves
- 1 medium saucepan
- 8 pint-sized mason jars, lids and rings
- Pressure Canner
- White vinegar
- Magic Marker
Prepare Your Ingredients
Start by combining the salt, vinegar and water in your medium saucepan, putting it over heat and bringing it to a boil.
While you’re waiting for the ingredients to boil, go through your green beans and snap off the stem tips. Then place a clove of garlic in each of your mason jars. Next, add in your peppercorns, dried red pepper, dill seed and mustard seed evenly across the jars as well.
Finally, add in your green beans so that there is an equal amount in each jar. When your pickling juice boils, pour it into each jar to within ½ inch of the rim. Tighten the lids hand-tight and then place them in your Canner. Add sufficient water to your canner (usually 2-3 inches – follow the manufacturer’s directions) and process according to your elevation (10 pounds of pressure for 20 minutes for pints).
While your green beans will only take less than a half hour to process, you’ll want to wait two weeks before enjoying them, so they’ll soak up all that brine you bathed them in. After that, your green beans are now good for at least three to five years as well (write the date on just in case).
Finally, let’s look at how you can preserve eggs for six months without refrigeration. Note: This recipe scales very well – if you want to pickle twice as much, have twice as many eggs, vinegar, spices and jars. I will most often use one cup of white and one cup of apple cider vinegar with my eggs. Just be sure it’s all 5% acidity.
Ingredients and Equipment
- 12 eggs
- 2 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
- 1 clove garlic, sliced thin
- ½ teaspoon dill seed
- 2 tablespoons canning salt (non-iodized)
- 1 jalapeno, sliced thin
- Water bath canner
- One pot
- 1 quart Mason (or similar) jar
Making Your Brine
Begin by combining the vinegar, canning salt, dill seed, clove garlic and jalapeno in a pot and bringing it to a boil for between three and four minutes before removing it from the heat. If you want a stronger flavor, strain out the jalapeno and garlic and place them at the bottom of your jar.
Preparing Your Eggs
Then hard-boil your eggs before removing their shells. Takes care not to damage the outer surface of your eggs when taking the shells off. Any eggs that are damaged can’t be used for fear of botulism. When this is complete, pack them into your jar.
Adding in the Brine and Pickling
Now, stir up the brine so that the spices stay suspended and pour it into the jar, until the liquid is about ½ inch from the top, but making sure all the eggs are completely covered. Now tighten the lid firmly and add the jar to your Canner.
Fill the canner with water until the level is an inch or two over the top of the jars. Put your canner over high heat until it begins boiling. Replace the lid and leave the canner like that for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, your canning should be complete. Remove the jar and let it cool. Once cooled, check the lid to ensure it sealed. If not, either reprocess the jar in question, or eat the eggs – which must be kept refrigerated once the jar is opened – over the next few weeks (if they last that long!).
With you can preserve all kinds of food so they last for months to years. Whether you’re concerned about keeping your independence in case of an emergency situation or just want to try some of your favorite foods with new flavors, this is a great talent to learn.