For those of you who love pickling but want to stay sugar-free, I have included two great recipes below. These recipes should give you a couple of healthier alternatives to traditional pickling which can use high amounts of sugar.
1. Quick Sugar-Free Pickled Radish Recipe:
It is not recommended to try to use artificial sweeteners when preserving foods via canning. Real sugar has specific qualities that are central to the preservation of food by making an inhospitable environment for the bacteria that spoil foods. Artificial sweeteners do not have these properties, so they are a poor ingredient for canning.
(Yields 2 pints)
3 cups thinly sliced radish, leaf and root, ends removed
1 ½ cups vinegar (white, red wine or apple cider)
1 ½ cups filtered water
7 packets Splenda, or 1 teaspoon Stevia
4 teaspoons salt
1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (to taste)
1 ½ teaspoons whole mustard seed
Optional: 2-3 cloves sliced garlic
Mix all of the ingredients except your radishes until well blended. Pour over sliced radishes and store in the fridge in an air-tight container.
2. Fermented Sugar Free Radish Pickle Recipe:
With probiotics being all the rage, home fermenting has become more popular in American kitchens. Fermentation is a preserving method that usually avoids sugar and instead uses salt to produce the perfect conditions for longer-term storage. If you have ever had sauerkraut or kimchi, both of these foods are made using a similar fermenting method.
(Yields 3 quarts)
7 cups thinly sliced radish, leaf and root ends removed
6 cloves of peeled garlic, root end removed
6 tablespoons pickling salt
8 cups room temp bottled water
Optional: You can add a diced fresh hot pepper such as jalapeno or habanero to give these some kick!
- Completely clean and disinfect 3 quart-sized canning jars. Cut cheese cloth, triple thick, so that you can use as a screen on the top of the jar.
- If you are using any optional seasonings, drop them in sanitized jars first. Lightly pack sliced radishes on top.
- Dissolve salt in the water and pour to cover radishes and be sure they are submerged. Place cheesecloth on the top of the jar and tighten down with the jar ring or a rubber band. As food ferments, it produces air bubbles. DO NOT seal your fermenting jars until you are ready to refrigerate them.
- Allow to rest in a dark place between 60-70°F for 3-7 days, or until the flavor and texture is to your liking.
- Remove any scum that may have formed at the top of the jar and refrigerate for up to 3 months.
Optional Flavor Additions:
Although the ratio of acid, salt and sugar is vital to long-term preservation, you can always tweak your pickle recipes with some flavorings. The best choices are whole seeds, pepper flakes or fresh garlic.
Try a few teaspoons (per quart) of these optional flavorings in any sugar-free pickled radish recipe:
- Red pepper flakes
- Coriander seed
- Dill seed
- Black peppercorns
- Mustard seed
- Fennel seed
- Caraway seed
Substituting Natural Sweeteners When Canning:
For some, avoiding sugar is about avoiding REFINED sugar, rather than avoiding natural sweeteners. Several natural sweeteners can be used to substitute for refined sugar when pickling.
- Agave Nectar
- Real maple syrup (not the cheap kind sold in the pancake isle)
- Cane sugar (piloncillo, rapadura, panela)
- Turbinado (raw) sugar
- Coconut sugar
- Dried fruit
It is important to realize that you cannot do a simple 1:1 replacement because the preserving qualities of each natural sugar are different. Be sure to follow recipes from a trusted source when preserving food from canning.