Flash! Aa-aaa-a!
November 13, 2013 4:03 PM   Subscribe

Teach me about flash/vacuum pickling. Caveat: I'm not using a chamber vacuum.

We just got a Cuisinart VS 100 Vacuum Sealer. It has a hose and "canister" setting, so I got a mason jar attachment, looked up some recipes in my books (and got a whole pickling recipe book) and I'm ready to pickle.

The problem is that I have no idea how using flash-pickling alters the process. Most of the flash-pickling conversation on the internet involves those $600 chamber vacuum sealers, which are obviously a lot more powerful than the one I have. I'm not doing water-bath canning (later, later) so this stuff is just going in a can and in the fridge. So I have some questions:

-There's no fermentation happening, so is this actually pickling or is it brine-infusing? Is there a difference?
-Does any ingredient in the brine change because I'm using a vacuum instead of time?
-Water-bath canning is specifically to keep things from going bad unrefridgerated, so that's not a concern here, right?
-Some suggestions online indicate that you should repeatedly seal (i.e. seal, unseal, reseal) the jars for maximum brine penetration. I understand how that could work but is that advisable?
-Does the vacuum sealing compensate for time spent pickling? As in, if I vacuum seal a pickle recipe that says "keep in fridge for 3 months" does that mean I don't need to do that? Or did I just shave a month off or something?

I'm not much of a kitchen person, so if any of these question don't make sense, or I'm missing some important part of the process, please feel free to school me.
posted by griphus to Food & Drink (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Well, there's fermented pickling (lacto-fermentation) and there's quick pickling done with vinegar. The former needs a certain amount of time to actually ferment (1-4 weeks). The latter needs enough time for the vinegar/flavorings to penetrate (days). You're doing the latter, but even faster.

According to this page, as little as 3 hours for flash pickling. Quick pickling with vinegar takes about 4 days for the flavor to penetrate.

Vacuum-sealing will definitely shave time off, but we're talking about days vs hours. I don't know about repeatedly sealing/unsealing - it may affect texture, or it may just accelerate the process. You'll just have to try it and see.

Yes, a water-bath process is to make a shelf-stable product. If it's going in the fridge it doesn't matter.

Brine is salt+water, but I assume you're using the term brine to refer to the pickling liquid. You're just changing time, so any vinegar recipe can stay the same.

You're right that a vinegar pickle isn't fermented, but it's still called a pickle.
posted by O9scar at 5:37 PM on November 13, 2013

I have done this many times. What you need to remember is to slice the food items thinly, consider pouring the bribe in boiling hot for harder items (carrots, sunchokes, beets, etc.), make sure you leave plenty of headspace to account for foaming, and use something to weigh the find items down so that they stay under the level of the brine. That last bit us key, as this is the only way flash pickling will work. The idea is that you want to pull as much air out of the vegetable as possible, then release the vacuum and the vegetable will suck up the brine into the vacated areas like a sponge. With a less powerful vacuum device like the one you have, you may need to draw a vacuum, wait for the bubbling to subside and then activate the vacuum pump again without releasing the vacuum. You want to do this until activating the pump does not cause significant bubbling of air out of the vegetables. Then you can release the vacuum and gave your instant pickles. The mason jar attachment is great for this. I would suggest you get a very large and tall jar do that the brine level isn't that close to the top. You do not want brine in the hose. These won't be the same as fermented or water bath pickles, but will be similar to vinegar brine refrigerator pickles.
posted by slkinsey at 5:39 AM on November 14, 2013

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