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Country Kitchen

What You Need to Know about Pickling and Fermenting Foods

August 28, 2021

Before homes were graced with refrigerators and freezers, folks would ferment, pickle, and can their food. This allowed them to preserve what they’d grown and raised during the spring and summer. Today, you can still ferment and pickle foods for flavor and fun. Here’s a quick tutorial on the differences between fermented and pickled foods and how it works.

Stick to Proven Recipes

Before you start pickling or fermenting anything, consult the websites for both Oregon State University Extension Service and Washington State University Extension Service. There you’ll find information about canning, pickling, and some fermenting recipes.

As always, start with sterilized jars and equipment to avoid contamination and food-borne illnesses. Be sure to read our article about canning basics to help you get started.

What is Pickling

Simply put, pickling is preserving or extending the life of produce or other food by submerging it in a salt brine or vinegar and storing it in a sanitized canning jar. While, the process can affect the texture and flavor of the item, much of the nutrients remain intact. Common pickled items include green beans, asparagus and cucumbers. Check out our article about long-term pickling.

To start pickling, all you need are some sterilized canning jars, a salt or vinegar-based brine, fresh produce, and a recipe.

Is Fermenting Food Safe?

When you ferment foods, you’re basically converting the sugars in the items into a preservative such as organic acids using yeasts, bacteria, and/or molds. Yes, fermenting fruits and grains with yeast can result in the creation of alcohol, but that is not the goal when fermenting foods. For food preservation, both bacterial and mold fermentation are necessary.

Some examples of bacterial fermented foods include kimchi, sauerkraut, and yogurt. Mold fermented foods include brie and blue cheese. The creation of sourdough bread and kombucha requires a combo of bacterial and yeast fermentation.

Get Your Canning Supplies at Coastal

You’ll also find what you need to pickle and ferment your foods before preserving them. Stop by your Northwest owned and operated Coastal and go home with everything you need to preserve this year’s harvest, including lids and bands, jars, pressure canners, citric acid additives, measuring devices, and advice from folks who know how it works.