Although many vitamins and minerals are leached away in the process, pickles remain popular as piquant side dishes and relishes long after more efficient food preservation techniques such as refrigeration, freezing and canning surplanted this pioneer mainstay as a primary food storage method.
Short Brine Pickling:
In this process the vegetables are soaked in brine 24 hours to draw out moisture but they are not fermented. To keep, they must have boiling hot vinegar poured over them which penetrates and preserves as well as crisping them. The final step after jarring and sealing is a 15 minute boiling water bath to kill any enzymes. If pickles show evidence of fermentation after being stored away [bubbles or leakage] either discard or immediately re-pickle.
Because of the acids involved use stoneware, pottery, glass and enamel or stainless steel kettles. For stirring and transferring use a long handled stainless or wooden slotted spoon. Make sure all equipment is clean and grease free. Pickles should be stored in sterilized glass jars with glass lids. For sterilizing techniques, refer to "About Jams, Jellies and Preserves". [Posted by me last week]
Fruits and vegetables should be very fresh, in prime condition without blemishes or bruises and scrubbed dirt free.
Garlic should be blanched 2 minutes before adding or removed before jarring.
Spices should be whole not ground and in a removable spice bag.
Water should be low iron, low sulphur and soft. It can be softened with up to 1 tablespoon calcium oxide [lime] per quart. If your water supply is inadequate buy distilled water or collect rain water.
Salt should be additive free Pickling salt. Regular table salt will cloud the liquid.
Vinegar should be 6% acetic acid. Use white distilled vinegar not cider, wine or flavored vinegars.
Lime water or cherry and grape leaves in the liquid will make pickles crisp. Use alum sparingly if at all and do not use the Copper Sulfate called for in old fashioned recipes as it is mildly poisonous in excessive amounts.
Pickles should be stored at least 6 weeks to achieve maximum flavor and although they will keep for years should be consumed within one year as the flavor will deteriorate over time.
This is based on extracts from the Joy of Cooking with amendments and additions by Jim Weller.