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Home and Farm Food Preservation
Chapter XVI - Preservation of Vegetables and Fruits by Salting and Pickling


A great variety of pickles may be made from vegetables and to a less degree from fruits. These include such things as cucumber pickles, dill pickles, sauerkraut, ripe olives, and sweet fruit and vegetable pickles.

The preservation of vegetables by salting and fermentation involves principles similar to those of pickling, and, therefore, this method of preservation is considered with pickling.

96. Preservation of Vegetables by Salt. Many vegetables may be preserved in salt or strong brine without causing any marked changes in flavor or composition of the vegetables. The salt acts as an antiseptic and prevents spoiling. There are three ways in which the salt is used. The vegetables may be mixed with dry salt in sufficient quantity to completely prevent the growth of all microorganisms, or only a small amount of dry salt is added and fermentation is allowed to take place, the products of fermentation, together with the salt, preserving the vegetables; or a very strong brine may be made up and the vegetables stored in this without fermentation.

(a) Dry Salting. In this method the vegetables are prepared fresh as for cooking for the table. Carrots, beets, and turnips are peeled and sliced; string beans are broken into short pieces and corn is cut from the cob. Onions and peas do not respond well to salting. Corn and string beans are excellent when salted.

One pound of salt is weighed out and mixed with each three to four pounds of vegetables in a stoneware jar or in an open barrel. The salt and vegetables are built up in alternate layers and a wooden cover to fit inside the container and heavily weighted, is placed on the vegetables. The salt and pressure draw the juice from the vegetables. This forms a concentrated brine in which the vegetables will keep indefinitely. They should be sealed with paraffin after about two weeks to check evaporation of the liquid. The vegetables must be freshened in water by soaking in cold water or by parboiling before use for cooking. They will keep indefinitely in this way.

(b) Salt and Fermentation. In this method a small amount of salt (one-half pound to each ten pounds of vegetables) is used. This permits the growth of yeasts and lactic acid bacteria, but prevents the growth of putrefactive bacteria. It does not prevent the growth of mold; molding must be checked by exclusion of air. The lactic acid formed in the fermentation is the main factor in the preservation of the vegetables. Cabbage, string beans, sliced beets, greens, sliced root vegetables, all lend themselves very well to this process. In Belgium and Holland, it is said that this is the most common way of preserving all kinds of vegetables.

Vegetables preserved by this method possess a "sauerkraut" flavor which varies with the kind of vegetable preserved.

The jar or barrel must be kept sealed after fermentation is over. Jars are sealed by pouring a thick layer of paraffin over the fermented vegetables. This is added ten days to two weeks after mixing the salt and vegetables. When vegetables are taken out for use the paraffin coating must be replaced in order that molding will not take place.

Barrels may be fitted with a six-inch bung in one head. The vegetables and salt are packed in with the head removed and is so left until fermentation is over. The barrel is then headed up and brine of the same strength as that on the vegetables (one pound of salt per gallon of water) is added to fill the barrel completely and the barrel is sealed with the hung. As the vegetables are taken out they are replaced with brine.

(c) Strong Brine. A few vegetables cannot be preserved satisfactorily by methods "a" and "b." Some of these may be stored in a very strong brine made of three and one- half to four pounds of salt per gallon of water. No fermentation can take place in this high concentration of salt. Large peppers, cauliflower, artichokes, and asparagus, are examples of vegetables that can be successfully preserved in this way.

The vegetables will float because of the buoyant action of the brine. Wooden floats must be used to keep the vegetables submerged to prevent molding.

The vegetables must be freshened before use. A convenient way of doing this is to suspend them in a coarse bag or colander in the top of a large pot of water. The salt rapidly dissolves out and is carried away by the large volume of water beneath the vegetables. This method is much more rapid than that of placing the vegetables in the bottom of a pot of water.

See Recipes 99, 100, and 101, Part III.

97. Dill Pickles. Dill pickles are made by the fermentation of cucumbers in a brine in the presence of dill weed and spices and with the exclusion of air. Lactic acid is formed and gives the characteristic sauerkraut flavor to this style of pickle. The brine used is about one- half pound of salt per gallon of water. A small amount of vinegar added to the brine will prevent softening by injurious bacterial growth. The amount of vinegar needed is three-quarters of a quart per ten quarts of brine.

Dill pickles may be made in stoneware crocks but better results are obtained in barrels. Exclusion of air is essential.

Fermentation requires from five days to a month, depending on the temperature. The finished pickles should be canned and sterilized to prevent deterioration. (See Recipe 104 for specific directions.)

98. Pickling Vegetables in Vinegar. Cucumbers, green tomatoes, onions, small peppers, beets, and cauliflower are the vegetables most commonly preserved in vinegar. The processes of pickling consist of a preliminary treatment to prepare them for the vinegar and secondly, of the storage in plain or sweetened vinegar. The vinegar is the preserving agent, sterilization being unnecessary.

(a) Storage in Brine. Most vegetables for pickling should be stored in brine a few weeks to remove disagreeable flavors before placing them in vinegar. Cucumbers are stored for about two weeks in a brine consisting of one and three-fourths pounds of salt to the gallon of water; this is then increased to two and one- half pounds per gallon and the cucumbers held in this until needed for final pickling in vinegar. Fermentation takes place during storage, the green color fades to an olive green, the acrid flavor disappears, lactic acid is formed from the sugar, and the texture and flavor improved. The cucumbers must be kept submerged in the brine. This can be done with a wooden float. Should softening set in more salt must be added. Softening is the result of harmful bacterial or mold growth. This is checked by increasing the salt content. Onions, cauliflower, and green tomatoes are stored in a brine of three and one-half pounds of salt per gallon for two weeks or longer before pickling. Peppers are stored in wooden barrels, filled with a brine of the same strength as directed for use on cucumbers. After fermentation, the barrel is closed and stored until peppers are used in vinegar. Beets are not stored in salt.

(b) Removal of Salt. The salt must be removed from the vegetables by soaking in cold water, or by heating in several changes of water to about 120 to 150 F. A teaspoonful of alum per gallon of hot water used will make cucumbers more crisp. Several hours' heating are usually necessary to remove the salt.

(c) Addition of Vinegar. Good cider vinegar should be used. If the salt has been removed from the vegetables by soaking in cold water the vinegar is added to the pickles boiling hot; if it has been removed by heating in water to 120 to 150 F. The vinegar is added cold. The vinegar may be spiced or sweetened by methods given in Recipe 107. The pickles will be ready for use after two or three weeks' storage in vinegar.

99. Pickling Fruits in Vinegar. Fruits, especially figs and peaches, are often made into sweet pickles by the addition of a spiced and sweetened vinegar to the cooked fruit or by cooking the fruit in this sweetened liquor. (See Recipe 108.)

100. Olives. The olive pickling industry is one of the most important of California's fruit industries. Arizona is the only other state growing olives commercially.

Olives are pickled both green and ripe, although green pickled olives are no longer produced commercially in the United States.

Olives before pickling are extremely bitter in flavor. The pickling process is largely one of removing this bitterness.

(a) Pickled Ripe Olives. The olives should be of good pickling varieties such as Mission, Manzanillo, Sevillano, or Ascolano, and should be ripe. They are ripe when cherry red to black in color. They should not be overripe and soft or badly injured by frost.

Wooden or stoneware vessels must be used for olive pickling. Never use metal.

The first step in the treatment is the addition of a lye solution of approximately three ounces (three tablespoonfuls) of soda lye to the gallon of water. This solution is allowed to penetrate through the skins of the olives and a little way into the flesh. The action of the lye is evidenced by a change in color of the skins of the olives and is also shown by darkening of the flesh of the fruit. If an olive is cut occasionally during the lye treatment, the action of the lye will be seen on the cut surface. The first lye is used to act upon the color in the skins so that it will turn dark on exposing the olives to the air. If it goes too deeply into the flesh the coloring during air exposure will not be satisfactory. It will usually take from three to eight hours for the lye to penetrate sufficiently. The lye is then removed and placed in another vessel. The olives are left exposed to the air in the vessel in which lye treatment took place. They are stirred three or four times daily. Two to four days' exposure will usually be sufficient to darken the olives. Exposure is necessary because the lye treatixient bleaches the natural color of the olive more or less. Exposure to air injures the flavor and texture slightly and if a dark color is not desired the exposure part of the process may be omitted.

When the olives have acquired the desired color the lye is returned to them to remove the bitter principle. The lye must be left on the olives the second time until it reaches the olive pits. This will be in about twenty- four hours. It dissolves and destroys the bitter compounds.

The lye is then removed and discarded The olives are then covered with water which is changed twice daily until no taste of lye is perceptible. This will require about a week's time.

The olives are then sterilized in jars or cans in a brine of five ounces (five tablespoonfuls) of salt per gallon of water. They must be sterilized in boiling water one hour. Any of the sterilizers described under canning of fruits and vegetables may be used.

(b) Green Olives. Olives for green olive pickles should be of full size, but still green in color. They are placed in a lye solution of three ounces per gallon and left until the lye reaches the pits. This destroys the bitterness. The lye is washed out with repeated changes of water. This must be done without exposing the olives to the air in order that darkening of the olives shall not take place. Green olive pickles should be light yellowish green when pickled and should not be brown in color. The olives are then placed in barrels or jars and covered with a brine of nine ounces (nine tablespoonfuls) of salt per gallon. The barrels or jars should be completely filled with brine and sealed with a bung or well fitting top. Fruit jars may be used for small quantities. Air must be excluded in order that lactic acid fermentation but not molding may take place. The reason for placing the olives in the brine is to permit lactic acid fermentation to take place. This produces the characteristic green olive flavor and texture. If the brine is too weak they will soften. If it is too concentrated they will not undergo fermentation. Barrels are the most satisfactory containers. They should be full and closed.

The barrels or jars are left in a warm place until the olives have reached the desired flavor. They are then removed, placed in olive or fruit jars, the brine is filtered, and poured on the olives boiling hot and the jars are sealed. No further sterilization is necessary.

(c) "Greek" Olives. Olives may be cured without the lye treatment by mixing one pound of salt to each three pounds of olives used. The salt and olives are built up in alternate layers in a crock or tank or barrel and left until the proper flavor has developed. The olives are covered with a thick layer of salt. The salt destroys the bitterness and draws out some of the moisture from the olives to such an extent that when they are removed from the salt no sterilization is necessary to keep them. The salt is brushed off the olives after the bitterness has disappeared. This will be in four to six weeks. They are stored in jars or boxes. This style of olive is used very extensively by the Italian and Greek population in America. Such olives contain most of the food value of the olive and possess more of the fresh olive flavor than do olives pickled in the usual way.

101. Tomato Ketchup. This product is made in enormous quantities and is used on practically every table. Most of it is made in factories, especially equipped for this purpose. It can, however, be made on a small scale.

The material used should be of best quality and free from moldy or soured tomatoes. Firm varieties, such as the Stone are preferable to the watery, less pulpy varieties because the pulp will require less boiling down and will be of better color. The various steps in tomato ketchup manufacture are (a) preparation of the pulp, (b) seasoning the pulp, (c) concentrating, and (d) sterilizing.

(a) Pulping. The tomatoes in commercial factories are broken up finely in a "cyclone" machine and the pulp forced through fine openings which hold the skins and seeds. In the kitchen, pulping is accompanied by boiling the crushed tomatoes a short time followed by forcing the juice and pulp through a fine screen to remove skins and seeds. These must be removed if an attractive product is to be made.

(b) Addition of Flavoring Materials. Sugar, vinegar, pepper, salt, onions (usually), cayenne pepper, and various other spices are added to the pulp. Paprika is often added in large quantities to impart a deep red color. The onions are added before cooking. The other spices are usually added after the ketchup has been partly boiled down so that the flavor will not be lost by boiling.

There are several ways of adding the spices. One of the best methods is to suspend the whole or coarsely ground spices in a bag in the ketchup during boiling. The flavor is extracted from the spices in this way. If ground spices are added directly to the pulp there is danger of darkening the product too much; for home ketchup making this, however, is not a serious defect and is more economical of spices. Acetic acid or oil solutions of spices are also used.

(c) Boiling. The pulp is boiled down to about two- thirds or one-half the original volume. Half of this boiling is carried out before the spices are added. Boiling should be rapid and burning avoided by stirring. Long boiling gives a dark color. There is no simple way of determining when the ketchup is done, except by taste and appearance. When it has reached the desired consistency it is ready for bottling.

(d) Sterilizing. The hot ketchup is poured into scalded bottles or jars. Bottles are sealed with scalded corks. Bottles should be sterilized in boiling water forty-five to sixty minutes to kill mold spores. Jars may be sterilized one hour in a washboiler sterilizer as previously directed for fruits. Ketchup may also be put up in cans.

102. Miscellaneous Tomato Products.

(a) Tomato Paste. Tomato paste is tomato pulp flavored or unflavored, as desired, which has been concentrated to about one-tenth to one-twelfth the original weight of pulp taken. It is used as a flavoring and as a base for soups, in combination with rice, spaghetti, etc. It need not be sterilized and can be stored in jelly glasses, jars, etc., sealed with paraffin. In making the paste the skins and seeds are removed from the tomato pulp by screening. The pulp is then boiled down slowly and finally concentrated to a thick paste on the back of the stove or in the sun in shallow pans. It is used extensively by the Italian population under the name of "conserve."

(b) Puree. Tomato pur6e is fresh pulp freed from skins and seeds. It is sterilized in cans, bottles, or jars. It is usually not concentrated before sterilizing, although container space is saved by boiling the puree down before canning.

(c) Chili Sauce, Piccalilli, and Relishes. These are various forms of chopped tomato relishes, flavored in various ways and consisting of various combinations of other vegetables with tomatoes. Some of these are made from green and others from ripe tomatoes. Recipes for the above products will be found under Part III.


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