Culinary Technique - Brining or salting
Brining or salting, like fermenting and pickling, is an ancient way to preserve food. It’s also the most economical. Basically, all you need is salt and water to prepare brine. It extracts moisture from the vegetable’s cells, preventing the proliferation of micro-organisms. Nowadays brining is used mainly to give vegetables a spicy flavour. Ideally, use sea salt and mineral water. Avoid porous containers and opt for glass or ceramic jars. Brining requires moderate temperatures, between 20 and 22 °C. You can quickly salt your vegetables, for 3 or 4 hours, to give them a tangy taste. You need only soak them in brine with a weight placed over them. But for vegetable preserves, choose the slower method. You can rinse the vegetables in cold water before serving them, if you wish. Vegetables that are usually cooked in water, like beetroots, turnips and cabbage, should be boiled al dente first. Then chop them up into chunks or strips, or grate them, before putting them in the brine. Hard vegetables are particularly suited to brining, but cucumbers and gherkins work as well. Brining shouldn’t be confused with pickling, where the main preserving ingredient is vinegar rather than salt (see: Pickling, below).
- Clean and wash the vegetables. Cut them into pieces or strips.
- Place the vegetables in layers into a jar and cover them with brine.
- Let them macerate until you obtain the desired taste.