I’ve got a gallon jar (hence the name barrel) of assorted veggies pickling away in my pantry. As each day passes the delicious fermenting aroma intensifies. My store of pickles from last summers harvest is long gone, and we have been missing homemade pickles made the old-fashioned way. Pickling Naturally : Mixed Vegetable Pickle Barrel is made with salt and filtered water, using time to create the pickle flavor rather than using vinegar. Not having the patience to wait for our garden produce to mature to start pickling, I purchased some beautiful organic cabbage, daikon radish, cauliflower and carrots to start an assorted mix.
Pickling with salt and spices is how people used to preserve vegetables long before canning and freezing became popular. The traditional process of fermentation (or as I like to call it, pickling naturally) is one of the oldest methods of food preparation and it has served us well over the centuries. It has not been until recently—especially in the last 100 years – that we’ve forgotten the value of traditionally fermented foods. Fermentation actually increases the nutrient value of your food while also preserving it. The fermentation process actually develops friendly bacteria that aids in the digestion process. Having a supply of pickled vegetables gives us another convenient way to get more veggies on our plate.
When I gathered my favorites for this Mixed Vegetable Pickle Barrel recipe, I noticed all but the carrots are in the cuciferous family. These vegetables are known for their cancer fighting benefits, especially when they’re fermented! And by the way, they are darn good picklers!. When good bacteria are introduced to cruciferous vegetable matrix, they enhance each other and produce what many people would call a superfood (foods with multiple health benefits). So you see it’s a very good thing that they happen to be a favorite!
Once your ingredients are assembled, you can fill your glass jar, (aka pickle barrel). You want to pack it tightly with vegetables, garlic and dill. If that means cutting them to fit better, by all means-do it!
I like to heat the filtered water in order to dissolve sea salt before adding it to the vegetables, and then let it cool. Once you’ve filled the jar with water/salt solution, there should be an inch of head room between the top of pickles and jar. If you need to add more filtered water to accomplish that, that works too. Notice I place a cabbage leaf over the top of the contents to keep them submerged in the brine.
When the jar is all set to pickle away notice the brine is clear. In this pic I placed a piece of seran wrap to protect the fermentation from making contact with the metal lid. I later replaced it with some food safe cloth or cheesecloth.
I placed the covered jar in a dark place, in one of our kitchen cabinets. On day 2 it starts to get a little cloudy and a pleasant pungent aroma tells you the fermentation process has begun.
On day 5 these tasted perfect! They have the right balance of a salty, sour flavor. The temperature in our house has been 73-ish which made for a faster ferment. In the winter when our kitchen is cooler these may take 7 days. If your pickles taste too salty, chances are they need more fermentation time. Check them every day or two for the right flavor.
When they are done, store the pickle “barrel” in the refrigerator. It will keep for 6 months! It’s a wonderful way to get probiotics and have vegetables ready to eat. Remove what you want for a meal, slice it up and return unused pickles back to the “barrel” for another time.
These are so very easy, great for you and surprisingly delicious! If you want to experiment with a smaller batch do a quart size for starters. Use 1 tablespoon of sea salt for the quart size pickles.
Some things to be mindful of when pickling :
* Make sure your jars are sterilized.
* Use a plastic lid or cheesecloth under your metal lid. Metal reacts with fermentation.
* Salt, time and temperature determine when your pickles are ready. The more salt you use, the longer they can ferment. The warmer the temperature, the sooner they are ready.
* I find the fermentation method of using a brine to be the simplest and I’ve had the most success with it. Be sure your vegetables are under the brine all the way. I like to reserve a cabbage leaf to cover the pickling veggies. It helps to keep them submerged.
* Use organic, non-blemished produce.
* Leave an inch of head room between the top of the vegetables and the top of the jar. They will bubble as they ferment-this is totally normal. Put the jar(s) in a shallow pan to catch any overflow as the process continues.
Mixed Vegetable Pickles (makes 1 gallon)
1 clean glass gallon jar
6 cloves fresh garlic
1/2 tablespoon dried dill
4 tablespoons sea salt
3 – 3 1/2 quarts filtered water
1 small head organic green cabbage, quartered and cored
1 daikon radish, scrubbed clean
1/2 head organic cauliflower, separated into florets
4 carrots, peeled
Choose vegetables that are organic and are free of any bruises. Clean well and let drain.
Set aside a cabbage leaf to use later.
Heat filtered water, dissolve sea salt in water and set aside to cool.
Pack 3 quarters of the cabbage on the bottom of the gallon jar. Pack daikon, and carrots around cabbage. You may need to cut the vegetables to fit in the jar. You want to fit them in as snug as you can. Layer garlic and dried dill as you go.
When the jar is packed tight with vegetables, garlic and dill, pour water and salt solution over vegetables. Pack reserve cabbage leaf snug over contents to keep vegetables under the brine. There should be an inch head room left. If not, add filtered water to cover, leaving a one inch head room.
Cover jar with a plastic lid or plastic wrap or cheesecloth and a metal lid. Set in a dark place in a pan or on paper towels in case it bubbles over while fermenting. Cloudiness on day 2 and thereafter is normal. They should start smelling pickled after about day 3. Pickles should be ready in 5 – 7 days.
Store in the refrigerator when done. Will keep 6 months. We like them on sandwiches, wraps, salads and as condiments and appetizers.