May 07, 2018
Fermenting and pickling are well practiced ways of traditionally preserving food beyond its season of picking. I’ve often mentioned how moving to the Barossa put me completely and absolutely in touch with the seasons, knowing when to plant and harvest, but perhaps the biggest part of that learning curve was knowing how to make the most of the food we grew, without letting anything go to waste. This is where fermenting and pickling step in as wonderful options to deal with a harvest of produce, that inevitably comes all at once. Having said it is a well practiced craft, it does take some commitment to ensure a delicious outcome, as with any living food product, things can easily go astray if not attended to. I’d thought I’d share some of my own discoveries from the years I have spent preserving food in this way.
It is essential that you use basic but thorough hygiene, and be sure to sterilise your jars. This can be done with hot soapy water, rinsed and placed into the oven to dry.
The ripeness of the fruit or vegetable makes every difference to how long it will take to pickle or ferment - keep tasting along the way rather than being reckless and throwing away all of your hard work prematurely.
Be sure to completely immerse produce under the pickling liquid, otherwise the risk of spoilage through mould growing will be against you.
When fermenting things like red wine vinegar, always remember that having a glass jar or crock on the go with a vinegar mother will provide the perfect fate for any left over red wine. I leave mine next to the stove to help maintain the warmth that is also necessary when making vinegar.
If you have never pickled anything before, I recommend starting with something that is very simple and doesn’t take too long to show edible results. Zucchini is wonderful for pickling in this way. And because it can be store in the fridge it won’t be at risk of spoiling.