The pickling of vegetables or fruit is done either by the use of salt or vinegar. In making pickles vegetables should be young and crisp, and the fruit ripe and firm. They should be picked in dry weather, and, unless they are to be boiled, it is advisable not to wash them, but simply to wipe them with a damp cloth, and then with a dry one. Unless these precautions are taken the pickle may not keep. It is important in making and storing pickles not to use any vessel or utensil made of metal that is affected by brine or vinegar, otherwise a poisonous compound will be formed. In cooking the pickles use an enamelled saucepan or fireproof earthenware, and for storing use glass, earthenware or stoneware jars, which can be tightly sealed. Use either a wooden or enamelled spoon for stirring. Only the best quality vinegar (wine or malt) should be used, as cheap vinegars contain chemicals which attack the pickles and soften them.

Pickles should not be left too long in a strong brine, nor should they cook in vinegar too long, otherwise they will become soft in fibre. The heating should be just long enough to cause the flavour to strike in. When the vinegar begins to lose its strength, pour it off and cover the pickles with fresh vinegar which has been scalded or brought to boiling point. Or, should mould begin to form, drain off the vinegar, heat it to boiling point and pour over the pickles. A few nasturtium leaves or a small piece of horseradish will prevent pickles from moulding.

A tiny piece of alum scalded with the vinegar which is to be poured over cucumbers or gherkins will make them nice and crisp, but alum is not considered wholesome.

If you wish your cucumbers green, put them into cold vinegar in an enamelled or porcelain-lined saucepan, stand them over a moderate fire, and heat slowly until they become green. Green parsley added to the vinegar some days before it is required will also make it acquire a green colour.

Jars For Pickles

In bottling pickles it is not necessary to use airtight jars, as the vinegar and spices act as a preservative. Glass jars tied down with vegetable parchment or bladder will answer the purpose splendidly; also stoneware or earthenware jars. On no account must glass jars be used with metal lids, as the vinegar would rust the metal and form poisonous compounds. Pickles should be kept in a dry, cool place.

Spiced Vinegar

Take 3 pints of vinegar, to which add 1 tablespoon mustard seeds, 1 tablespoon peppercorns, 1/4 oz. whole ginger, 8 cloves, 1 tablespoon red chillies, and 1/4 oz. long green chillies. Tie the spices in a piece of muslin. Bring vinegar to the boil and use as required.

Pickled Beans. - I

Take tender green beans and put into brine as directed at the beginning of the Chapter, for 24 hours, then drain thoroughly, put into jars, and pour spiced vinegar over.

Pickled Beans. - II

String eight pounds of tender green beans, then boil in salted boiling water for about 15 to 20 minutes. Then drain through a colander and let stand until cold. Put into glass jars, sprinkle lightly with cayenne pepper, add a teaspoon of whole mustard, one teaspoon of chopped horseradish, and cover with good strong cider vinegar, then seal tightly.

Beet And Cabbage Pickle

Two pints cooked beets, two pints raw cabbage, one tablespoon salt, one and a half cups sugar, one teaspoon allspice, one teaspoon pepper, half cup grated horseradish, vinegar. Chop the beets and cabbage very fine, add the other ingredients, and mix all together. Cover with cold vinegar and seal in jars.

Beet And Onion Pickle

Remove the skins from cooked beets, then cut them into thin slices. Peel and cut some onions into thin slices, and put alternate layers of beets and onions into jars. Boil enough vinegar to cover the vegetables, with salt to taste, and some allspice, whole peppers, cinnamon, ginger, and mace, and strain into the jars. Leave to cool, then seal tightly.