Spring and summer get the most love, but fall is a surprisingly good time to grow a vegetable garden.
Category | Garden Ideas, Gardening, How to

Pickling and Preserving Your Fall Vegetables

Spring and summer get the most love, but fall is a surprisingly good time to grow a vegetable garden.

Spring and summer get the most love, but fall is a surprisingly good time to grow a vegetable garden. The cooling weather favors hearty root vegetables, including:

  • Turnips
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Radishes 
  • Parsnips
  • Yams
  • Sweet potatoes

 

Fall is also the ideal time to plant vegetables from the brassica family:

  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Kohlrabi

 

When you finish harvesting your garden, you’ll likely have a surplus of vegetables. The good news is that many fall crops are ideal for pickling and preserving. Here’s how to make your fall vegetables last through the winter (and a couple recipes to get you started). 

 

A Simple 4-Step Guide to Pickling

Pickling means preserving something in a brine — a combination of salt and liquid. You’ve likely had pickled cucumbers before, but you can pickle all kinds of vegetables. 

Quick pickling will keep vegetables for about a month, but in this article, we’re going to focus on shelf-stable pickling. By following these steps, your vegetables should be preserved and good to eat for well over a year. 

There are a few short steps to pickling just about anything. You will need:

  • Mason jars (or other canning jars)
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Vinegar
  • Herbs, spices, or other flavorings

 

Step 1: Prepare Your Veggies

As a general rule, the firmer the flesh of a vegetable, the better it will stand up to long-term pickling. Leafy greens like kale are better eaten fresh, but beets, carrots, turnips, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are all great choices for pickling. 

Chop your vegetables up into roughly 1-inch pieces and set them aside. You’ll also want to prepare any herbs and spices you plan to use. Good choices include:

  • Bay leaf (1 leaf per jar)
  • Whole black peppercorns (1-3 tsp per jar)
  • Celery seed (½ tsp per jar)
  • Whole dried chili peppers (1-3 per jar)
  • Cumin seed (½ tsp per jar)
  • Dill seed (½ tsp per jar)
  • Coriander seed (½ tsp per jar)
  • Caraway seed (½ tsp per jar)
  • Mustard seed (½ tsp per jar)
  • Fresh dill (2-4 sprigs per jar)
  • Habanero peppers (1 sliced pepper per jar; remove seeds for less heat)
  • Sliced garlic (1-2 cloves per jar)
  • Oregano (1 sprig per jar)
  • Sliced shallots (½ shallot per jar)

If you aren’t sure where to start, try the recipe at the end of this article!

 

Step 2: Sterilize Your Jars

Sterilizing is the most important step in pickling. You want to make sure that you kill bacteria and molds so your food doesn’t spoil while on the shelf. 

The easiest way to sterilize your mason jars is by boiling them. Submerge the jars and tops (both the lid and the screw collar) in boiling water on your stovetop for at least 10 minutes, then remove them to a clean kitchen towel or paper towel and let them dry. 

 

Step 3: Create a Brine and Fill Your Jars

Creating a brine is easy. You need:

  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • ½ cup kosher salt

Mix everything together in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Fill your jars with your vegetables and flavorings, then pour the brine into the jars so that it completely covers the vegetables. Wipe any residue off the rim of the jar, then put on the lid and screw the collar tight. 

 

Step 4: Boil Your Sealed Jars

The final step in preserving pickled vegetables is to boil your jars of veggies. Put them in boiling water for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat, let the jars sit in the water for another 10 minutes, and remove and dry them. 

This step forms an airtight seal, ensuring that your pickled vegetables will stay good for months. 

At this point, you can set your jars on a shelf in your pantry. Your veggies will keep at room temperature almost indefinitely — although they will get softer as the months go on, so if you like a snap to your pickled vegetables, you may want to eat them within the first three months or so. 

You can use this method to preserve all your fall vegetables and keep them throughout the winter. Looking for a place to start? Try these pickled carrots. 

 

Recipe: Pickled Dill Carrots 

Ingredients:

For the brine:

  • 4 cups white vinegar
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • ½ cup kosher salt

 

For the pickled veggies:

  • 4 lbs carrots, peeled and sliced or halved
  • 6 sprigs of fresh dill
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp dill seed
  • 1 tbsp coriander seed
  • 6 32-oz mason jars

 

Follow the steps outlined in the article above. Each mason jar should contain:

  • 1 sprig of fresh dill
  • 1 whole garlic clove
  • ½ tsp dill seed
  • ½ tsp coriander seed

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