How can I preserve cucumbers without oil

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Sour cucumbers - these are the classics of this method of preservation. Soaking in vinegar or oil not only extends the shelf life, it also refines the taste at the same time. We show what is important when it comes to inserting.

Soaking food in liquids is an easy old-fashioned way to extend its shelf life. Pickles, pearl onions and mixed pimples are known as pickled vegetables. Due to the influence of the Mediterranean diet, mushrooms, tomatoes or olives preserved in oil, so-called antipasti, are now enriching German cuisine. Soaking in alcohol, for example in rum pot, or in salt solutions such as sauerkraut is also part of this preservation method.

The shelf life - above all a question of acidity

Firm vegetables such as cucumber, beetroot, carrots or celery are particularly suitable for pickling in vinegar. Peppers, onions, green beans and cauliflower also tolerate the acidic environment. The vinegar has a preservative effect because the acid it contains prevents microorganisms from growing. According to the Federal Center for Nutrition (BZfE), the pathogenic bacteria are killed from an acid concentration of two to nine percent, which, however, would be far too sour for our taste. For this reason, sugar and salt, for example, are added to the acid, which also have a preservative effect. The previous boiling or drying of the food also contributes to this. This extends the shelf life in the refrigerator from a few weeks to - depending on the vinegar content - three to twelve months. It also depends on the cleanliness of the glasses used.

This is how you can pickle them in vinegar

The vegetables should be fresh and flawless. Carefully wash, clean and, if necessary, peel the goods before placing them in. Then, depending on the recipe, blanch, pre-cook or even cook, or sprinkle raw with salt to drain the vegetables. Screw jars or preserving jars and earthenware pots are suitable as vessels.

Tip: never use metal containers. The acid attacks the metal and harmful substances can migrate into the brew and the food.

Half a liter of five percent vinegar and up to half a liter of water with spices are required to pickle one kilogram of prepared vegetables. Classic spices such as mustard seeds, pepper, coriander or cloves provide a fine aroma, chili peppers or garlic for a particularly spicy note. First pour the hot brew into the glasses and let cool down. Then bring the brew to the boil again and only then pour it over the vegetables into the glasses. Cover the pickles completely, preferably one to two fingers wide, with the brew.

In general, the jars should be stored in a dark, cool and dry place. Once opened, the pickles belong in the refrigerator and should be used up in a few days. If mold forms or the vegetables ferment, they are no longer edible and must be disposed of in any case.

Homemade antipasti

Soaking vegetables in oil promises pure Mediterranean pleasure. Tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, aubergines and also olives, mushrooms, garlic and herbs are suitable for this. Since the oil hermetically encloses the food, it is protected from pathogenic microorganisms. However, it does not stop the food from spoiling, so that it can only be kept for up to two weeks if stored in the refrigerator. Only additional boiling, drying, sugaring or salting will make the pickles keep for three to four months.

Put the prepared food in the glass and fill with enough oil to cover the pickled food. Olive or rapeseed oil, for example, are suitable as edible oils. Not only can you make your own antipasti, you can also create pesto - classic with basil or a little more exotic with rocket or wild garlic - or herbal oils yourself.

Tip: If you pickle a lot of vegetables, you should layer them tightly and pour cooking oil over each layer. This is the best way to prevent air bubbles from forming.

From now on, patience is required, because it would be best if the pickles should sit for a few more weeks.

Author: Dr. Claudia Müller
Photo: F. Wöhrlin


• BZfE: Soaking: Well stored in vinegar, oil & alcohol, 2018 (last accessed: 14.02.2019)
• Too good for the bin: Preserving food - durable food with a vitamin guarantee, 2015 (last accessed: 14.02.2019)

LS 02/2019