Learning how to avoid the mistakes when pickling is a critical step. Some may have experienced ferments exploding or turning fizzy, or jarred pickles turning mouldy. There’s certainly an art to putting fruits and vegetables into jars and the key to success is hygiene.

Unfortunately the one step that’s the most important is often overlooked – sterilisation. Here’s how it’s done:

Jars and lids to be used firstly need to be checked for good condition. They must not show signs of chips in the glass or dents on the lids.  And only then if the condition is good, they can be used, but first they MUST be sterilised. Without completing these two steps, you’re almost assured of something going wrong.

Sterilising is a process that insures that everything as clean as possible so that bad bacteria doesn’t grow inside the jar and ruin your pickle and preserving work. The task is fairly simple – although it does require some planning and effort. Here’s how to go about it:

1. Give your jars a good wash in very hot soapy water.

2. Place them in an oven pre-heated to 110C. Leave for 10-15 minutes or until they have dried.

3. Remove the jars from the oven and allow to cool on a clean baking tray, wire rack; or perhaps lay them on top of a CLEAN tea towel.

4. Check that all of your lids are clean and have no dents. Give them a wash if required.

5. Boil the lids in a pot of water for a minimum of at least 5 minutes.

6. Take them out of the pot and allow to air dry on a rack or wipe with a CLEAN tea towel.

7. Your lids and jars are now ready for filling with warm ingredients. Seal the jars closed tightly using a CLEAN tea towel to assist the process.

Pickling can be a beautiful art form – Photo: Monika Grabkowska

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