The art of pickling and fermenting involves a lot of technicalities. The way in which you cut the vegetable that has to be fermented, what sort of liquid you use to ferment and pickle - these small steps make a huge difference to the flavour of the final pickle. For beginners it is essential to follow all steps in a recipe while pickling, as unlike cooking food, where you can skip a vegetable or two and customise according to your preference, while pickling and fermenting meat or vegetables, skipping or altering any step in the recipe could have an adverse impact on your health. In order to help you pickle better, here are a few tips and tricks that you can swear by: 

1) Use fresh produce 

Whenever you’re pickling vegetables or fruits, make sure that you pick ones that are fresh and not with a layer of wax on them. Select those vegetables or fruits that aren’t spoilt, rotten or have holes. Before you begin to pickle, you must clean your produce well. Just as you’ve practiced cutting the tip and bottom of vegetables, follow that before setting them to ferment. The scientific reason for this is that sometimes, the tip and bottoms of vegetables can contain enzymes that could cause your pickle to soften and turn mushy. 

Credit: Pexels

2) Use correct quantities

You must follow all the quantities enlisted under a recipe. There can be serious health risks if you decide to whimsically skip a step. For eg, if you think salt is not good in excess and you alter the quantity of the salt lower than mentioned in the recipe, then remember that you’re going to create more bacteria than needed and this can result in serious food poisoning, as salt controls the fermentation process and kills bugs. Pickles can be very healthy when prepared using the right recipe and ingredients - all in the right quantity. 

3) Pay attention to knife cuts and liquid requirements 

While you may think that cutting a vegetable or fruit in any manner is permissible while pickling, this is not entirely true. Carrots for instance should be cut in a coin shape if set to pickle as the centre of the carrot is usually the sweetest. Therefore, follow the knife cuts in your pickle recipe as recommended. Another thing to take care of is the level of the pickling liquid. Whether it’s oil or vinegar, make sure to maintain the ratio of the liquid and vegetable as mentioned in the recipe. In case you’re using  a jar with a metallic lid, make sure to keep appropriate distance between the brine and the lid as the two could react which could lead to spoiling of the pickle. 

Credit: Pexels

4) Follow a strict jar discipline 

Always keep your jars sterilised and clean. Pickles and the process of fermenting needs an air tight environment and therefore it is necessary that the lid on your jars closes tightly. Use new jars if your old ones are worn out. Remember to wipe the rim of your jar before and after you fill it up and screw the cap on. This helps to strengthen the seal. Always label and date jars so that you remember the date that you set your pickle down to ferment. Some recipes may call for fermentation to be carried out for months, in such cases remembering the exact date is extremely important. Whenever you’re storing your jar of pickle to ferment, make sure it’s a dry and clean place as water and dampness ruins pickles.