Food preservation: Salt Brining

This method of preservation differs from Lacto-fermentation in that the salt content is higher, stopping the production of acid, relying on the salt itself for the preservation properties. Salt brining is easy and cheap, however be aware that most vegetables preserved in this way will need to be desalinated before eating (see below). Some things that are used as ingredients rather than a main item in a dish such as olives, peppercorns, capers, etc. do not need to be desalinated as their salty flavour will simply reduce the need to add salt to your dish.

Salt Brining

  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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brining

Ingredients

  • Water: Most water is fine but avoid using hard water or chlorinated tap water.
  • Salt: Use pure salt without additives (or salt labeled “canning” or “pickling” salt). Table salt contains additives that can produce substandard brines.
  • Vegetables: Do not use vegetables which have a wax coating on them as brine can’t penetrate it.
  • Flavours: Due to the need to soak in water to remove salt before use, added flavours are not usually used as these would be washed out at the same time.

Directions

    1. Clean your jars: Wash and fill with boiling water, or boil for 10 minutes to sterilise. If you will store long term, keep the water boiling for processing the jars at the end.
    2. Prepare your brine: According to your recipe or use a simple ratio of 1/4 cup of salt to a cup of water.
    3. Prepare your veg:
      1. Wash and chop your vegetables to the desired size. If you use vegetables like tomatoes, chillies, etc. you will need to cut them in such a way that the brine can penetrate inside it or it may rot. If you are preserving green beans, string them.
      2. Then blanch them (see below) in boiling water. (skip this step for soft vegetables such as cucumbers and tomatoes as they will become mushy)
    4. Fill your jars:
      1. Tightly pack jars with your chosen veg (eg. small cucumbers, scallions, chillies, beets, cauliflower, carrots) leaving a little space at the top.
      2. Pour your brine over the vegetables, leaving 1 1/2 inches of headroom if water processing.

Store short-term: Pour a little oil on the top of your brine to reduce oxidation, and replace lids. Allow jars to cool then put them in the refrigerator. The vegetables should keep for up to a year

Store long-term: Water process (see below) then store in the cupboard. Your pickles can now be stored at room temperature for a few months to a year, but will last much longer if stored in a cool dark place.

Blanching

This is done to stop enzymatic action which can lead to discolouration in your vegetables.

      1. Bring water to a boil
      2. immerse vegetables for about 1-5 minutes depending on type, the aim is for them to still be firm.
      3. drain from boiling water and immerse in ice water to stop further cooking.

Water processing

This is done to create a vacuum seal. Once your jars are sterilised and filled with hot product, and while they are still hot:

      1. Place the lid on firmly but not overly tight.
      2. Carefully return the jars to the boiling water you sterilized your equipment, ensuring the water completely covers the jar by at least two inches above the lid.
      3. Cover the pot with a lid.
      4. Bring the water back to a boil and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Then turn off the heat.
      5. Pull off the lid and wait a few minutes under the water is not longer boiling.
      6. Using tongs, carefully remove each jar from the water and sit on a countertop protected with a towel.
      7. Once the jars are completely cool press down on the lids, if they don’t make a popping sound you have successfully canned your vegetables.

Desalination

Too much salt is not healthy for you, and the flavour will be overpowering if you use your salt brined vegetables straight from the jar. In order to use them you need to partly desalinate (remove some salt from) them. To do this you need to soak the vegetables in water. You may need several soaks and rinses.

    1. Put vegetables in fresh water and place in the fridge for 8 hrs
    2. Change the water
    3. Taste and soak for a further 2 hours. Repeat this step as necessary for your desired use.
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