Pickles are a summer staple at cookouts or for a crisp, refreshing snack. But pickled cucumbers are only one option for pickled foods and you can enjoy them even after summer is over. Pickled vegetables can be canned and eaten year round, offering the opportunity to eat out-of-season veggies at any time.
“Pickling is a nice way to get in some additional vegetable servings in the day,” said Samantha Bulgrin, a dietitian at Marshfield Clinic Health System. “Another benefit is that nutrients are retained in the pickling process, so you aren’t missing out on any healthy component of the vegetable by eating it in the pickled form.”
However, the biggest drawback of eating pickled foods is the sodium content. Most pickled vegetables, including store-bought and homemade, include lots of salt. High-salt foods can be problematic for those with congestive heart failure, chronic kidney disease or high blood pressure. However, Bulgrin explained that eating in moderation is generally safe, so there is room for pickled food items in most diets.
Pickling at home
In terms of which is better for you, homemade pickled vegetables or store-bought ones, Bulgrin said, “It’s really mainly just a personal preference. Obviously there is convenience with store-bought items. The taste profile can be different, so some simply prefer one over the other.” If you value the convenience or flavor of purchasing store-bought pickled vegetables, you can enjoy them in moderation.
However, if you like homemade pickled vegetables, give the process a try. Bulgrin recommends doing some research to decide which method of pickling you want to try. Once you have picked out a method and what food you want to pickle, give it a go. There are lots of online recipes to help guide you.
If you want an easy, healthy recipe to start the pickling process, try this recipe for pickled beets that are ready in just a few hours. Once you get comfortable with the process of pickling, venture out and try it with a new veggie!
Quick Pickled Beets
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 4 hours 50 minutes
Servings: 2 cups
- 5-6 small-medium red beets (about 500 grams)
- 1 cup white vinegar (amount will depend on how you slice your beets)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- optional additions – spices of your choice or sweetener
- Rinse off any excess dirt and cut off the stem and root. Find ones that are similar in size to ensure even cooking. If some are larger than the others, which is bound to happen, slice the larger ones into smaller pieces so they can cook evenly.
- Add water to a large pot with a steamer basket and steam for 30-45 minutes. The time will depend on how large the beets are. They are done when you can easily pierce them with a knife.
- Remove from the pan and let them cool for a few minutes. Next, you will need to peel them. With the beets being warm, the skin should be able to peel right off. To get it started, you can slide a knife in between the skin and the bulb and then use your hands. Once you get it going, it should easily come off.
- Slice them into 1/4-1/2-inch-thick pieces. Then place them in a wide-mouth jar. Pour vinegar over them so they are just barely covered.
- Let them sit in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours up to overnight. The longer they sit, the better they are!
- Wear gloves to prevent turning your hands and fingers purple. It will wash off after a couple of times if you don’t have gloves.
- If you don’t like a lot of acid flavor (vinegar), you can use half vinegar, half water.
- This recipe is not shelf stable and must be kept in the refrigerator.
Each serving contains about 54 calories; 0.3g total fat; 406mg potassium; 12g carbohydrates; 3.5g fiber; and 8.4g sugar.
Source: Eat the Gains[button-maroon url=”https://shine365.marshfieldclinic.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/30660-000_Shine365-Quick-Pickled-Beets-recipe.pdf” target=”_self” position=”left”]Print recipe[/button-maroon]