The Joy of Pickling (Second Edition), by Linda Ziedrich
The vegetable gardener’s planning must include not only the what, when and where to plant, but must account for the storage of surplus produce when neighbors run from armfuls of over production. Cookbooks and the instructions on the packages of pickling salts are adequate for more conventional produce, but a paperback like the Joy of Pickling opens a vast array of alternatives, including the preservation of uncommon vegetables and fruits, and unusual methods of putting them up.
Based on extensive research and reader feedback, the author provides an authoritative primer on the art of pickling (the controlled decomposition of vegetables), including critiques of the several preserving processes, the role of each of the essential ingredients, tips on food safety, and 250 flavor-packed recipes.
Ziedrich encourages the adventure of pickling. Although she thoroughly drills the reader in the avoidance of contamination and spoilage, she lays out clear directions and assures the adventurous gardener of the ease and joy of the pickling process and its bounty.
She not only lists and explains the common and unusual pickling ingredients, but she suggests where and how to obtain them in sufficient quantities and at a reasonable prices.
The proof of the value of this book comes in the outcome of its use. To date, I’ve only read it. Ziedrich’s description of canning methods for cucumbers fits well with my own experience. What interests me and what would deserve a follow-up review is her description of fermented pickles. These resemble the delicious offerings found in barrels at the old-fashioned groceries and delis. Rather than using heat, vinegar and salt as anti-microbial preservatives, fermentation recruits live microorganisms in brine to cure cucumbers. Although sterilization and refrigeration may follow fermentation, it is possible to enjoy half-sours, dill pickles, and other crock-pickles for many weeks beyond the completion of fermentation.
The author carefully describes the materials and methods for pickle fermentation, including shortcuts and economic variations. Food-safe plastic buckets may substitute for crocks and stainless steel containers. Unlike the use of canning jars, the fermentation process requires daily attention, mostly the skimming of yeast from the surface of the salty liquid. The fermentation fluid has its fans. Some drink it, bathe with it or use it as a soup stock.
Other recipes of particular interest to me during the 2016 growing season include fermented chili garlic relish, pickled whole hot peppers, pickled roasted peppers and pickled asparagus. How about you? Do you have a favorite pickle, an unusual pickling trick or a pickling recipe to share?
I first noticed The Joy of Pickling, by Linda Ziedrich in the Shumway Seed Catalogue, but purchased the expanded second edition from Amazon.