Category Archives: Recipes

That Leftover Pickling Brine

A frequent question lately has been about re-using that leftover pickling brine when making homemade quick pickles.

Sometimes quick pickles are made by heating cut pickbrine
or sliced vegetables in a vinegar solution to acidify them. If this is done prior to filling jars, we refer to that as a hot pack method for canning: heating vegetables in the pickling liquid before filling them into your jars and covering with the hot liquid. Other times, quick pickles are made by the raw pack for canning: prepared raw vegetables are placed directly into the jars and then the hot pickling liquid is filled over them into the jars.

Once you heat, or even soak, your vegetables in your pickling solution, pH changes start to happen. (Heating makes the interaction happen faster.) The vegetables become more acidic, which is what we want to happen in pickling. However, the pickling solution then becomes less acidic. So if your recipe is a hot pack for canned pickles, and you have heated your vegetables in the pickling solution (“brine”), then you should not use leftover brine from filling jars for another round of the recipe. The expected ratio of acid to low-acid ingredients and ultimate pH adjustment in the next recipe will not be the same.

If you are making a usual raw-pack recipe for canned pickles and have leftover vinegar or pickling solution, then that could be used for another round of the recipe if you have a significant amount left over. An example of this type of raw pack would be pickled dill green beans, or quick dill cucumber pickles. The beans or cucumbers are never combined with the vinegar solution until it is filled over them in the canning jars.  The initial boiling may have concentrated the vinegar (and other ingredients like salt or sugar) just a little, but that does not make it less safe.  If you boiled it quite a bit to concentrate the mixture, you may not want to use it for its effect on flavor, however.

In some recipes, sliced raw cucumbers are soaked for hours in the pickling liquid (vinegar, sugar and/or salt, for example). Then the liquid is drained off the cucumber slices into a pan. The soaked raw slices are filled into jars while the liquid is then heated and poured over them. Even though this is a raw pack in terms of filling jars, this vinegar solution had its original pH (acidity) altered from that initial soaking before it was heated and poured into jars. It should not be used again for a canned pickle recipe since it is now of unknown acidity.

Leftover solutions from preparing a canning recipe could be used to flavor some veggies that only get stored in the refrigerator. This would be similar to marinating for flavor. Not knowing each recipe and situation, I cannot give you a definite storage time for this new mixture in your refrigerator.  I would treat it as a fresh vegetable salad and consumer it within several days in most cases.  And remember, home refrigerators should keep foods at 40 degrees F or lower!

Unfortunately some of our “legacy” USDA pickling recipes, as well as those from other sources, and especially those using whole pickling cucumbers, do result in some leftover brine after filling jars. Different varieties of pickling cucumbers have varying diameters and lengths and will not always fit into canning jars to the same degree. Therefore, there are more uncertainty and variable results in issuing recommendations for general use.

Do realize that the safety of pickle recipes for home canning in boiling water will depend a great deal on the ratio of ingredients and preparation steps including piece size. And not all pickle recipes produce the same final, equilibrated, pH in the vegetable and brine. Even though safe for boiling water processing, the length of the process time needed for keeping them on the shelf at room temperature can vary depending on the actual acidity.

Our Pickled Products recommendations for home canning can be found at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website or in So Easy to Preserve, 6th edition, from the University of Georgia. The University of Georgia Extension also has two factsheets that can be downloaded for free, Pickled Products and Canning Relishes. Please be safe in choosing your pickling recipes for canning!

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Preserving Pears

Pears are a sweet treat over the holidays, some being cultivated and grown specifically for their availability this time of year. So after you’ve eaten your share of fresh pears, what can you do to preserve that special flavor?

If your canner is still accessible (and you have room in your kitchen regardless of holiday cooking!), then you may want to can pear halves. Remember that Asian pears are not as acidic as other varieties and have their own canning procedure which requires that addition of bottled lemon juice.

Pickled Pears are also an option for canning, especially if you have Seckel pears or another firmer, crisper pickling variety.

Pear Relish is another pickled pear product you could try; it includes onion, peppers, celery, and allspice. If you can also get your hands on 2 or 3 chayote, then you could make Chayote and Pear Relish, with allspice and pumpkin pie spice.

A couple of delicious sweet spread choices are available that use pears as a primary ingredient: Pear Preserves is a traditional, no-pectin-added southern-style fruit preserves made with large chunks of pear and a thickened sugar syrup (in other words, not a jam-like spread!).  Pear-Apple Jam is a sweet, gelled spread made with liquid pectin (and a touch of cinnamon!).

Finally, if you are not up for getting the canner going, then you could simply make a sugar syrup and freeze pears.

Got cabbage? Make relish.

While we can’t tell you to can plain cabbage, we can offer ways to incorporate this fall crop into some relishes.

Chow-chow is a popular mixed vegetable favorite, including beans, carrots, green tomatoes, pepper and onion in addition to cabbage.

Piccalilli is another popular favorite, on the sweeter side of the spectrum. Piccalilli makes the most of cabbage and green tomatoes, as well as smaller amounts of sweet peppers, onions, and brown sugar.

Fall Garden Relish is a simple medley of cabbage with cauliflower, green tomatoes, onions, and sweet peppers, brightened by flavors of mustard and turmeric.

Rummage Relish is a great relish for using up a mixed assortment of garden veggies: red and green tomatoes, cabbage, onions, celery, red and green sweet peppers, and cucumbers. The plethora of sugar and spices on the ingredients list are no less impressive for their notable variety: brown sugar, garlic, celery seed, cinnamon, mustard, ginger, and cloves!

Get ‘Em While They Last – Raspberries

Raspberry season winds down as we make our way into fall, so make sure you preserve what you can while they are still available fresh off the bushes, market tables, and/or grocery shelves.

If you’ve still got room for jars of jam, then you might like to try this traditional, long boil, no-added-pectin Berry Jam that has just two ingredients: berries and sugar. Combine raspberries with other berries in this recipe if you like.

Uncooked jams and jellies are easy to prepare and do a great job of preserving fresh fruit flavor. If that sounds good to you, then try Uncooked Berry Jelly or Uncooked Raspberry Jam with Fresh Fruit. Remember that uncooked jams and jellies need to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer, not at room temperature.cropped jars

Another option with raspberries is to make (and boiling water bath can) Raspberry Syrup to top pancakes, ice cream, and baked goods.

 

Raspberries on trayShort on time and want to have some raspberries available for sauces, baking or making smoothies? Freeze them plain and simple, with sugar, or in sweetened syrup.