Until a 150 years ago salt was expensive and often hard to get. Then the main use of salt was as a food preservative. It could be used for pickling, brining or dry curing meat. Today I am going to talk about brining and the type of salt you should store for preserving food.
The use of canning or pickling salt is recommended. While both iodized and noniodized may be safely used, noniodized is preferred. Noncaking materials added to table salts may make the brine cloudy. Flake salt varies in density and is not recommended for use. A friend who pickles several hundred pounds of cucumbers and olives a year will use nothing but noniodized sea salt.
Brine is a solution of salt and water. It can be used to preserve both meat and vegetables. A 10% brine, about the strongest used for food preservation is made by dissolving one and a half cups of salt in one gallon of water. A 10% brine is usually strong enough to discourage even such destructive bacteria as botulinus.
After the food has been added to the brine, the percentage may decrease. This is caused by the action of the salt drawing the liquids from the food. You may need to add more salt. The test is 2 oz egg will float in a good 10% brine solution.
For people who are trying to avoid salts this is not the best method of preserving food. But in a pinch you can reduce the salt content by placing in cold water and slowly bring it to a boil, simmer for 3 – 10 minutes and discard the liquid.
The USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning has a good section on pickling vegetables.