You can pickle vegetables. You can pickle fruit. You can pickle meats. You can pickle eggs. Really, there’s very little you can’t pickle, as long as the flavors are complemented with that salty, sour taste that pickled foods bear.
How to Pickle
The heart of pickling lies in the brine, which is a water and salt mixture that works to preserve foods and prevent bacteria growth. In some cases, brine is used as a marinade only to add flavor and not for preserving.
To make brine, combine six cups distilled water, three cups white vinegar, and one cup “pure” salt. Next, bring all the ingredients to a boil.
The jar is another critical component of pickling. Size doesn’t matter, but sterility does. Fill the sterile jar with the food you want to pickle, leaving an inch or two of space at the top. Pour the boiling brine in the jar so that it just barely covers the food. The last step is to fill the jar to the brim with vegetable oil.
Finally, write the date on the lid and wait for two weeks before eating. No need to refrigerate until you open the jar later.
The History of Pickling
While “pickling” can refer to the act of adding brine to any food, the term “pickle” usually refers to the pickled cucumber. While it’s not exactly clear when the first pickles appeared on our plates, there are Biblical references to the pickle as well as other historic references too. In fact, some claim Cleopatra ate pickles because she was told they had beautifying qualities.
Spicing Up the Pickle
Recipes can range from a basic brine approach, like the one mentioned above, to spicy hot versions too. In some recipes you will add the spice initially and in other cases you will add the spice days or a week after jarring. Either way, let your imagination run wild. Here are just a few ideas for spicing up your pickles.
- Add color with turmeric
- Add dill weed for that traditional dill pickle flavor
- Turn up the heat by adding garlic and/or chili peppers
Pickles and Your Health
The pickling process reduces calorie count (breaks down sugar) in most all foods. For this reason, pickles are not a bad addition to any diet. However, if sodium levels are a concern for you, then be wary of eating too much pickled anything. Like always, everything must be eaten in moderation.
Commonly Pickled Foods
As mentioned, the cucumber is the most commonly pickled food. However, there are many other foods we eat that also are pickled. Those foods include the kimchi, sauerkraut, herring, shellfish (called ceviche), okra, and even watermelon rinds.
This article is presented by Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts Dallas. Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts Dallas offers Le Cordon Bleu culinary education classes and culinary training programs in Dallas, Texas. To learn more about the class offerings, please visit Chefs.edu/Dallas for more information.
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