Tips on pickling/canning:
- Record your data! One of the biggest mistakes that beginning picklers make is to embark on projects and not record vital information, i.e. exactly what ingredients were used, the date it was made, the amount of salt used, average room temp. etc. If you want to learn, even from your mistakes, this is a vital step.
- Don't get discouraged! You will screw up. This is inevitable, and a vital part of the learning process.
- Get over your fear. Fermentation is a natural process that you will be guiding along. Smells that you might not be used to are part of the process, as well as some surface yeasts or discoloration from oxygen contact. Learn to trust your instincts about the food you are making. This will take time (although a pH meter is a very handy tool for the novice). Naturally fermented vegetables are an extremely safe product. You are creating both a saline and acidic condition under which pathogenic bacteria cannot take hold. Trust in the history of these products. They have nourished humanity for centuries.
- Get very physical with your vegetables. In most naturally fermented pickled products (such as sauerkraut, kim chi, etc.) the juice of the vegetables will create the brine that the vegetables will ferment in. This is crucial! The juice needs to be quite literally worked out through the use of salt and kneading. You cannot leave a cut up cabbage out on your countertop and expect to find sauerkraut next month. You will create the conditions and environment to make the product you want. This will take some work and attention.
- Be patient! Natural souring takes time! Depending on what vegetables you're using and how strong you like the final product, you should count on anywhere from about two weeks (say for cucumbers) up to about ten weeks (say for beets). If you develop a taste for traditional Japanese pickles, your time frame moves from weeks to months. This is truly slow food.
Alex Hozven and Kevin Farley, owners of Cultured Pickle Shop, have been vendors at the Berkeley farmers market for years. Their pickle shop is a commercial kitchen and store where they teach classes on canning and pickling. They have tours and tasting. They use sauerkraut and kim chee in their fermentation. Canning and pickling is a great way to stretch that food budget and get a crunchy, sour or sweet yummy in return.
About Cultured Pickle Shop:
Cultured Pickle Shop is a small family owned business located in Berkeley, CA. dedicated to preserving pickling traditions from around the world. We challenge ourselves and our customers to expand our notion of how 'sauerkraut' or 'pickles' are enjoyed in the diet. Indeed sour vegetables constitute a food group onto themselves, deepening flavors, nutritive values, and connections with our microbial environment.
Cultured Pickle Shop
800 Bancroft Way Suite 105
Berkeley, CA 94710