We all know that vegetables and fruits from the summer and autumn harvest cannot be stored for a long time in their natural state. Therefore, homemade pickles became a tradition and an important resource for the winter in any household in Moldova. Pickled vegetables are specific in their own way and differ in taste, appearance and aroma. And even if the canning method remains the same, the difference is mainly in the concentration of spices, salt or sugar. As for the preservation of vegetables, the two most common methods are salting and marination.
The difference between salting and marination
In fact, the term salting, is equivalent to fermentation and this process occurs due to lactic acid bacteria, which are naturally found on the surface of vegetables or fruits. By placing them in salting containers, they begin to convert sugar from fruits and vegetables to lactic acid. This process gives them a sour taste, which we really appreciate. In this case, the only preservative is salt.
One can experiment with the color, taste and texture of pickles by adding various natural spices such as dill, bay leaf, black pepper, celery, cherry or horseradish leaves. These spices add a special flavor and keep the vegetables firm and fresh.
Marination is another canning method, and often the taste, texture and color of marinated vegetables are superior to salted ones. The main components of marination are divided into three groups: acids (vinegar is most often used, sometimes lemon juice), oils and spices. Unlike salting, marination of vegetables occurs using high temperatures, which leads to the loss of a certain amount of vitamins and enzymes. However, the shelf life is increased.
There is a wide variety of vegetables that can be canned for the winter. In Moldova, the most popular salted vegetables are tomatoes, cabbage, watermelon, various mixes such as peppers stuffed with cabbage, eggplant with vegetables or salads with pickled vegetables and mushrooms. In some regions, it is practiced to salt or pickle vegetables in combinations (cabbage and apples, tomatoes and cucumbers), due to this, the final product acquire a special, more refined taste. More rarely, one can pickle corn, celery or red onions. As for marinating, the most popular vegetables are peppers, capsicum, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes, beets, patisson or cauliflower. One can also make pickles using fruits, besides watermelon, people salt or marinate Jonathan or Golden apples, autumn pears, plums, several grape varieties, peaches or quinces.
If we talk about the beneficial properties of these two types of canning, then salting has several advantages, because it is an absolutely natural process, without a significant impact on health. Salted or fermented foods help improve digestion by acting like a natural probiotic. Pickles regulate intestinal transit and promote better absorption of nutrients. However, salted vegetables are not recommended for those who have high blood pressure, heart disease, or inflammatory diseases of the digestive tract.
In case of marination, there are used ingredients such as vinegar, which is most often of chemical origin and is a source of inflammatory diseases of the esophagus and stomach. Also, by consuming pickled vegetables, we, without realizing it, add to our daily norm a certain amount of sugar.
Therefore, if we do not know what to choose between, for example, salted or marinated tomatoes, it would be more useful to choose the first option.
Some useful tips for salting and marination of vegetables for the winter:
- vegetables should be fresh and ripe. If they contain spots on are too dry, they should not be salted or marinated;
- pickles are prepared in the first half of autumn, except for cabbage, which can be salted in November;
- the jars should be thoroughly washed with hot water and dried;
- ingredients such as hot peppers, horseradish and cherries leaves will keep vegetables fresh and firm;
- water used in pickles must be either boiled or filtered from impurities;
- spices must be carefully selected: garlic, horseradish, mustard, bay leaf, dill, celery leaves, in addition to giving taste, also have an antibacterial role;
- mold does not form in the pickles if you put in a jar a bag of fabric filled with mustard seeds. Another option is to add a little oil into the liquid;
- in case of marinating capsicums, honey can be used instead of sugar;
- The bitterness of cucumbers can be removed if, after cutting, we put them in milk for ten minutes.