Mason jars were invented in the 1850s, but the canning jars with sealing lid and rings that we use today actually didn’t exist prior to 1915 (source: A Brief History of Common Home Canning Jars). So what did people do to preserve vegetables before that?
One method they used was salt brine lacto-fermentation. The process of lactic acid fermentation is part art and part science. You’re probably familiar with sauerkraut and kimchi. By the same biological process we can make brine-pickled vegetables from literally whatever is in the garden.
The same beneficial organisms we find in good soil are on the surface of the vegetables we pick. Those beneficial organisms feast on the carbohydrates in the vegetables and produce organic acids as well as enzymes and beneficial bacteria.
It is the acids produced – part lactic and part acetic – that form the brine that preserves the vegetables from spoilage.
This process must happen anaerobically, outside of the presence of oxygen, which is why the vegetables are covered in a salt brine.
Click here to find this recipe: http://thesunshinethiryblog.com/2015/07/09/making-lacto-fermented-pickles/