GOODLAND TWP. — Many varieties of fresh produce are now available at farmers markets. These items can be enjoyed now or later when preserved correctly. It is important to choose vegetables that are fresh and unblemished. The amount of vegetables used is equally important. Use exact measurements to ensure that spoilage or botulism do not occur.
When preparing to preserve any vegetable or fruit it is important to use the correct equipment and follow a safe and research-tested recipe. Make sure that jars are not cracked or chipped, and use new lids to ensure that they seal completely.
If you want to preserve green beans Michigan State University Extension suggests using this research-tested Pickled Dilled Beans recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation to help ensure a quality, safe product. The site also has suggestions for pickling other vegetables.
Ingredients are very important in the pickling process. When pickling home preserved products acid or vinegar plays a key role in preventing botulism. The level of acidity in a pickled product not only makes your favorite vegetable pickle taste great, it also keeps the vegetable firm and allows you to process in a water bath canner.
When pickling it is important to remember:
• Do not to alter vinegar, ingredients or water amounts in a pickled recipe. This can change the acidity of the product and cause spoilage or botulism.
• The vinegar must be 5 percent acidity. Do not use cider vinegar or flavored vinegar.
• Avoid homemade vinegar because the level of acidity is unknown.
• Always use canning or pickling salt to prevent the brine from becoming cloudy. Pickling salt is also cut as a fine grain so that it dissolves quickly in liquid.
• Remember to use whole, fresh spices and herbs, older spices and herbs can cause spoilage, alter the flavor of a product or cause cloudiness which may or may not indicate spoilage.