A couple dozen erstwhile picklers showed up bright and early Saturday morning for our Powerpoint presentation at the local historical society. By a show of hands, there were a few gardeners present along with a few experienced picklers. But mostly this was a crowd just eager to learn how to pickle.
I was happy to oblige.
Among the questions: "What is pickling salt?"
In my shorthand recipes, I call for pickling salt. Some other kinds of salt will do. Pickling salt it a pure salt with no iodine and no additives. If you look on most salt containers, you will see they contain anti-caking agents and sometimes other additives. Iodine and other additives can wreak havoc withe fermentation. To be on the safe side, I use pickling salt. Sometimes I buy it at the farm supply in Annapolis where my in-laws live. It is also available on-line, or you might get your hardware store to order some. In other recipes it is perfectly safe to use sea salt or kosher salt.
Another question: "What if a recipe calls for 'organic' honey and you can't find it?"
Since honey comes right out of the mouths of bees, I don't know how it could be anything other than organic. I suppose you could make a distinction for honey that derives only from plants raised organically. But I don't know how you could keep the bees from sneaking in pollen from non-organic fields. I say don't worry about it.
Another question: "If sauerkraut is really smelly, would I be better off making kimchi? I don't know how this is going to work in my apartment, unless I do it in the basement."
I let my sauerkraut ferment behind the door to the stairs leading down to our garage. You never notice it--unless, of coarse, you open the door. I fermented our kimchi in buckets in the kitchen. I happen to like the aroma; my 8-year-old daughter doesn't. My conclusion: this is an individual issue.
A comment: "I was traveling once in Poland and had a terrific pickle soup. Ever heard of it?"
In fact, I have. Also sauerkraut makes a great soup--or so I've heard.
The session seemed to be over in an instant. Later, several of the attendees left comments on this blog. By popular demand, I am passing on the recipe for pickled pineapple with cranberries, a "quick" pickle that I would treat as a condiment, something you could definitely pass around with the Thanksgiving turkey.
1 pineapple, peeled and cored and cut into bite-size chunks
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup cranberries
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup apple juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
10 whole cloves
In a large mixing bowl, combine pineapple, pineapple juice and mint leaves.
In a non-reactive saucepan over medium heat, combine remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Discard cinnamon stick and pour liquid over pineapple chunks.
Refrigerate pickles for 24 hours before serving. Refrigerated, they should keep for about three weeks.
Happy pickling everyone.