So you’ve decided you’d like to be a part of this food trend. Lucky for you, helpful resources and countless recipes abound. Here are pickling and canning safety tips and resources to get you started:
- The Preservation Station (crosshatch.org/preservation-station). A fun, affordable and unique way for small groups to acquire pickling skills together. (The station travels to you!)
- The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, Jarden Corporation, 2012. An updated version of this venerable and beloved reference work, including 60 pages on pickling everything from asparagus to zucchini, as well as relishes, salsas and chutneys, which are often classified under the “pickle” label.
- Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving, CathyBarrow, 2014.Comprehensive, well-researched and organized, beautifully written, artistically photographed.
- Sandor Katz’s website (wildfermentation.com). Prolific author and revered food preservation guru Katz is the canning/pickling/fermentation expert’s expert.
- Michigan State University Extension online (msue.anr.msu.edu). Type “pickling” into the search box for recipes, tips and classes.
- University of Georgia National Center for Home Food Preservation (nchfp.uga.edu). Includes a whole section titled “How do I pickle?”
“Our soils and our produce have changed over the years,” says Jen Schaap, of CrossHatch. “Back in the day, vegetables and fruits had a higher acidity level than they do now. That’s one reason why, in our workshops and classes, we stress using only research-based recipes and methods, especially for hot water bath canning, to make sure you’re getting the right water and acidity levels.” A short list of other safety essentials:
- Use only the freshest, highest-quality ingredients
- Use non-reactive utensils (stainless steel and glass)
- Use accurate measurements and proportions
- Use only vinegar with 5 percent acidity
- Use only pickling or canning salt
- Use whole dried spices that are not outdated
- Use soft, non-chlorinated water
Note: Along with minding time and temperature guidelines, adhering to the correct acidity levels is crucial to preventing foodborne botulism poisoning. If you have old family recipes that you would like tested for acidity levels to make sure they are safe to use, there is at least one lab in Michigan, Great Lakes Scientific (glslab.com), which offers that service for a small fee. If necessary, the recipe can then be adjusted so that the family tradition can safely be carried on.