Friday, 6 July 2012

Pickling with Vinegar

Alot of pickled foods use vinegar as the main preserving ingredient. There are a number of vinegars that can be used, malt vinegar is most common, but cider vinegar and red and white wine vinegars can also be used. These latter vinegars are usually more expensive, and their flavour is often more subtle and can be lost with the process of pickling.

You can either buy a ready made pickling spice which will contain a selection of different spices, or you can buy individual spices to make your own pickling blend. Depending on the spices used you will need between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon of spices for every 600 ml of vinegar. To make the spiced vinegar, it should be boiled with the spices for 5 to 15 minutes (from 5 minutes for a milder flavour or use with pickling fruits, 15 minutes for a stronger flavour). The intensity of the flavour is down to personal preference, so you can taste the vinegar at 5 minute intervals until the correct flavour is achieved. The spices themselves can either be wrapped in muslin or used loose and removed later. If you wish to add spices to the jar to make it look attractive, use only a very small amount of the spices used for boiling, as the flavours will keep infusing into the pickles as they are stored. NOTE: Don't use zinc, copper, iron or brass pans with vinegar; stainless steel, aluminium and good quality enamel pans are good.

Spiced vinegar can be used for pickling most kinds of vegetables and fruit. You need to sterilise (boiling is good) the jars that you will be using, and avoid using metal lids as they can rust. You can get round this by putting a layer of clean cling film inside the lid.

The vinegar left over once the pickles have been used can be added in salad dressings and in other forms of cooking. 'Waste Not Want Not' as my nan used to say!

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