I am not a fan of wasting food because I feel bad for the people who don’t have any but also because I don’t know what will happen in the future and I want to be prepared for anything. These are my reasons why I pickle besides the fact that I love them and I could eat them with any food.


What is pickling? Pickling is the process of preserving foods in a high-acid solution, either by adding vinegar or naturally using fermentation. Spoilers cannot grow in a high-acid environment. This state of high acidity is achieved in two ways: using salt and vinegar (though when you pickle with vinegar, you add salt as well).

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Pickling With Salt


Pickling locks in the fresh taste from your garden

Pickling with salt falls into two categories: dry salt and brine. The dry salt method combines dry salt with vegetables in quantities above what you would add for seasoning purposes. Liquid (watery juices) is pulled from the vegetables, and this liquid combines with the salt to create a brine — a salty, watery solution. With the premade brine method, a vegetable is placed in a combination of salt and water. In both cases, the vegetables are covered in brine for a prescribed amount of time. In this submerged, airless state (below the brine line), the vegetables ferment. Fermentation is the process by which the natural bacteria in foods convert the sugars into lactic acid. Lactic acid is a natural preservative. Depending on its strength, microorganisms will not grow in lactic acid because of its low pH (high acidity). As a result, low-acid foods such as cabbage can be canned safely in a water bath canner and stored on the shelf for up to a year after fermentation is complete. Lactic acid also supplies that yummy sour taste — hence the name sauerkraut.



Pickling With Vinegar

Pickling with vinegar is a much quicker process. In vinegar, the vegetable does not ferment. Usually, the vegetable rests for a short time in a brine (to add crispness and flavor), is drained, often brought to a boil in a vinegar solution, packed into jars, covered in the remaining hot vinegar solution, and water bath canned for long-term preservation. The acetic acid in vinegar brings up the acidity of the vegetable to a point where no microorganisms can thrive. Acetic acid, by the way, is flavorless and colorless. When a recipe calls for vinegar that is 5 percent acid, that means the vinegar is 5 percent acetic acid.

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When making pickled foods, it is critical that you use very fresh ingredients. If you start out to make sauerkraut with an old, soft cabbage, your end product will be mushy. Basically, crisp into the brining pot means crisp out of the brining pot. (And this is true of all preserving: Don’t put up foods that are on their way out. Preserving is not a way to postpone eating something that has been aging in your refrigerator. Rather, preserving is capturing a food’s optimum freshness in time.)

The only ingredients necessary for pickle are the food you are planning to pickle, either salt or vinegar or a combination, and water. Salt is key, and it matters which kind you use. Use pickling or canning salt or kosher salt. Pickling salt (sometimes called canning and pickling salt) is pure granulated salt. It is free of anticaking agents, which can cause the pickling liquid to turn cloudy. Table salt with iodine (iodized salt) is not a good choice. It won’t hurt you, but it will undermine the appearance of your pickles, as additives.

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do not dissolve completely. I often use kosher salt because it just tastes saltier to me. However, kosher salt has large crystals, which do not dissolve as quickly as pickling salt. When making a premade brine, you have to either heat kosher salt and water together to ensure the salt is totally dissolved or combine the salt and water together in a bowl and swish it around until all the crystals are dissolved. Another factor regarding kosher salt is volume. The large crystals of kosher salt take up less space in your measuring spoon than the smaller pickling salt crystals.

Sea salt is produced by the evaporation of saltwater. It comes in fine and coarse -textures and a variety of colors. The problem with pickling with sea salt is consistency. Because it is an unregulated product, you just don’t know what minerals are in there or how they are going to affect your pickling. Disregarding the fact that it is expensive, sea salt is not the best choice for pickling. Rather, on the occasions when I indulge myself with one of those lovely jars of pink sea salt, I use it to garnish foods.


It is critical that you use fresh ingredients.

Water is also important. During fermentation, hard water (mineral-rich water) and heavily chlorinated water can interfere with the formation of lactic acid. You can tell you have hard water if it stains the toilet and heavily chlorinated water if it smells like a swimming pool. In this case, you have two options: Either buy distilled water, or bring your tap water to a boil for 15 minutes, cover it, and then let it sit for 24 hours. You will detect a scum on top and sediment on the bottom. Skim off the scum and pour the water into another container, leaving the sediment behind. However, if your water is good to drink, it is good to pickle with.


And finally, vinegar. Again, it’s all about that 5 percent acidity. I use Heinz distilled white vinegar, cider vinegar, and white wine vinegar. Distilled white vinegar is made from grain alcohol. It is clear, pungent, and flavorless. Because of its clarity, distilled white vinegar is preferred when appearance matters, especially when pickling pale vegetables. Cider vinegar is distilled from hard cider (fermented apple juice). It has a light golden color and a soft tart taste. It is milder than distilled white vinegar but causes the vegetables to darken somewhat. White wine vinegar is my favorite, probably owing as much to my Italian heritage as anything else. The taste is fruity and strong.

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Other ingredients you will encounter in pickling are sugar (white and brown), herbs, spices, and garlic. Of these, unrefined sugar is fine to use if you prefer it. Fresh herbs should be just that. Don’t use fresh herbs that are browning or slimy. Spices should be fresh, too. It’s a shame they are so expensive, because the fact is, after a year you should chuck your spices out, as they diminish in flavor. (Just sniff. If you can’t smell anything, the spice or dried herb is finito.) You should use aged, cured garlic. While very fresh garlic is a delight to eat, it will discolor during pickling. Garlic that has cured at room temperature for two to three weeks is best (and that is primarily what you get at the supermarket).

I don’t use firming agents (to crisp up vegetables), but for the record, there are two: lime and alum. Lime is calcium hydroxide. Obviously, it must be a food-grade product and not that used for agriculture, which is not meant for consumption. In Le Marche, where my dad is from, the large green olive called the Uliva d’Ascoli is cured in lime. Highly prized by the ancient Romans, it is an incredibly sweet, mild olive that the locals peel like orange and stuff with a meatball mixture and then fry.

Alum is potassium aluminum phosphate or ammonium aluminum sulfate. I know of some canners who lay a grape leaf in the bottom of their jars to firm up their fermented pickles, but I am not one for adding anything to a recipe that I don’t have to.


Ceramic crock for pickling

What Kind of Equipment Do I Need?

For dry salt fermenting, the most important item is a 1-gallon stoneware, glass, or food-grade plastic crock. I bought mine — a ceramic crock — at a gourmet kitchen supply store. It has 1⁄2-inch-thick walls. I think it was being sold more for decorative purposes — and indeed, I store kitchen utensils in it when I am not using it for fermenting. You’ll need a glass, stainless steel, or ceramic bowl for brining. Avoid all metal bowls besides stainless steel, as salt and vinegar can react negatively to them. You should also use stainless steel pots for heating vinegar solutions. Do not use aluminum, copper, brass, galvanized steel or iron pots for fermenting or heating pickling liquids.

When bringing foods, such as cabbage, you must be sure the food stays submerged in the brine. A simple way to accomplish this is to place a food-grade, resealable bag filled with extra brine (the salt and water solution) directly atop the food. It is heavy enough to keep the vegetables below the liquid, and if you spring a leak, it’s no problem, because only brine will dribble into your crock.

To process jars, you just need a water bath canning setup.

The Basic Steps for Pickling

These are: brining (which draws water and air out of the vegetables), packing in jars, in some recipes covering with a hot vinegar solution, and in many recipes water bath processing.

Store pickled foods as you would other home-canned products: in a cool, dark place. Pickles should age for about 8 weeks to set the flavor.


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I am not a fan of wasting food because I feel bad for the people who don’t have any but also because I don’t know what will happen in the

As you already know, prepping is also about using what’s at hand. But a real prepper knows what to store in order to have it all at hand. Take sodium bicarbonate for example.

Sodium bicarbonate is very useful in treating stomach acid problems such as gastritis and peptic ulcer disease. Gastritis means inflammation of your stomach lining.

Think about it, the stomach is a gastric pit with a pH that can fall as low as 2. This gastric acid pit can dissolve meats, yet it does not dissolve itself…why? The reason is the lining of the stomach secretes a mucous film filled with sodium bicarbonate that helps protect its cells from the acid produced by other cells in the stomach.

Sodium bicarbonate is a very strong base or alkaline solution…the opposite of an acid. It effectively neutralizes the stomach acid before it reaches the wall of the stomach. When this does not happen, the acid eats away irritates the stomach lining, and leads to gastritis.

When this is long-lasting and severe it will erode a hole in the lining, which is an ulcer.

In a postapocalyptic scenario, there will be many opportunities for treating various conditions with a simple, inexpensive substance such as sodium bicarbonate. It can effectively replace all the medications you will presumably not have available to you, such as the H2 blockers and the Proton Pump Inhibitors that many people currently take such as Pepcid, Zantac, Prilosec, Protonix, Prevacid, etc.

This is a safe and effective way to raise the pH of your stomach and your entire body.

Remember, pH is the way an acid/base balance is measured in your body. A pH of 7 is neutral (water), anything lower than 7 is acidic, and anything higher is alkaline or basic. Since the stomach pH is very low because of the acid it is secreting…and if there is a problem such as gastritis or even ulcers…then we need to raise that pH to allow healing.

Note: Do not take sodium bicarbonate if the powder is not fully dissolved, and never take it when your stomach is full of food and you are bloated. It has the potential to release gases and rupture your intestines.

But let’s not forget what we’re here for. Here’s 9 Beneficial Effects of Sodium Bicarbonate:

1. Increasing pH (making you more alkaline) will help the body’s immune system kill off bacteria.

2. PH controls the speed of our body’s biochemical reactions. pH is responsible for rate control in enzyme reactions in our body as well as the speed of electrical conduction of nerve impulses. Even our mitochondria (the cell powerhouses) suffer under acidic conditions. Enzymes work ideally in a narrow pH range; this is because changes in pH change the way chemical bonds function.

3. Sodium bicarbonate is effective in treating poisonings, chemical exposures, and even overdoses of pharmaceuticals, by canceling out the cardiotoxic (heart-damaging) and neurotoxin-damaging nerves) effect. Most of the body’s waste and toxins are acids, thus your body needs to combine them with alkaline buffers like sodium bicarbonate to neutralize them and excrete them. An increasing acid load lowers the pH and leads to many of the degenerative diseases that Americans currently suffer from such as reflux, kidney stones, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, gout, and heart disease, to name a few.

Sodium bicarbonate is capable of absorbing heavy metals and toxins such as dioxins and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). Most patients have dioxins in their body’s tissues. These accumulate over a lifetime and persist in people even without continued exposure. Dioxins are known carcinogens or cancer-causing agents, and greater exposure translates to a greater risk of developing cancer and other health problems. Sick patients often have elevated levels of these and other toxins in their tissues since we are constantly exposed to toxins that have entered our waters and our food chain.

4. Sodium bicarbonate is also effective in radiation damage. It will help prevent radiation damage to the kidneys. Currently, the United States Army is using it for this to protect its troops.

5. Sodium bicarbonate also helps treat radiation-exposed soils to neutralize the damage, where it can be mixed with the top two or three inches of soil where it has been found to bind up radioactive particles for removal and remediation of the soil. At Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, researcher Don York has used baking soda to clean soil contaminated with radioactive uranium. He has shown that sodium bicarbonate binds with this uranium, enabling him to separate it from the soil. Using this method he was able to remove approximately 92 percent of the uranium from contaminated soils.

For us Preppers this is huge; with a generous enough supply of sodium bicarbonate stockpiled, you will be able to make your survival garden once again capable of producing life-sustaining food.

6. Hay fever and chemical and food allergies are also improved with alkalinization of your body with sodium bicarbonate.

7. Headaches and pain relief: Sodium bicarbonate has potent analgesic (pain relieving) properties. Take one teaspoon dissolved in a glass of water. It works very well for migraine headache relief. Migraines are frequently caused by neck pain, sinus and allergy problems, and magnesium deficiency. When taking any medication for a migraine (I highly recommend Excedrin: which is Tylenol, aspirin, and caffeine. (As long as you are not allergic to any of the ingredients or are on a blood thinner of some type, which would be highly unlikely in a post-apocalypse scenario). Take it immediately, as soon as you feel the headache starting.

Most migraineurs learn this eventually; migraines, once they start, cannot be ignored, they always worsen until you are down and vomiting and clutching your throbbing head. Ice packs or anything cold you can apply to your forehead and top of your neck where it meets the base of your skull will help. A dark, quiet area will also help.

8. Earwax: A mixture of sodium bicarbonate and warm water when flushed into the ear gently with a turkey baster or something similar will dissolve and dislodge the wax blocking your ear. Do this several times until it opens up. Some people use some warm mineral oil to get the same result.

9. Constipation and colitis symptoms have been known to improve with the use of sodium bicarbonate enemas. Mix half a cup of sodium bicarbonate in a quart of warm water put it in an enema bag and instill it into your colon. is will act as a natural cleanser and help any bowel irritations as well. I also highly recommend Epsom salt orally for constipation.

As you already know, prepping is also about using what's at hand. But a real prepper knows what to store in order to have it all at hand. Take sodium