The 411 on Pickling

Pickling (not to be confused with fermenting) is a wonderful way to begin experimenting with dynamic flavor profiles. Pickled foods have the ability to elevate your dish from simple to sophisticated.

What’s involved in the pickling process?

The process of pickling involves fermentation, generally facilitated with the addition of vinegar. The high acidity of pickled foods discourages spoilage, which is one reason pickling was popular before the advent of refrigeration.

What’s the difference between pickled and fermented foods?

Foods that are pickled are those that have been preserved in an acidic medium (generally vinegar). Pickled foods lose some (but not all) nutrients during the pickling process. Fermented foods not only maintain their nutrient content, the fermentation process actually generates beneficial enzymes and lactobacilli- an alkaline reactive food source.

Store bought or homemade?

Fortunately, pickled foods are hot right now. You shouldn’t have any problem finding a wide variety of pickled products at your local grocery store. While store bought is convenient, it doesn’t compare to the taste of homemade.

This recipe will work for whatever you care to pickle (beets, cucumbers, eggs etc.) I’ve chosen onions because they’re my absolute favorite.

Pickled Onions

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp star anise
  • 4 Tbsp whole cloves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp black peppercorn
  • 2 Tbsp whole coriander
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 2 dried arbol chili
  • 2 Tbsp hibiscus (optional)
  • 3 cups vinegar (I’ve chosen red wine and champagne vinegar)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch of Himalayan sea salt
  • Choice fruits and veggies (I’ve chosen bosc pears and red onion)

Instructions

  1. Wrap all spices (excluding salt) securely in cheesecloth.
  2. Pour water and vinegar in large pot.
  3. Whisk in sugar and toss in spice wrap.
  4. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes. While boiling, chop choice fruits and veggies and place in glass jar for storing.
  5. Remove liquid from heat. Whisk in salt.
  6. Remove wrap and strain if necessary.
  7. Pour liquid over fruits and veggies.
  8. Place in fridge and wait for the magic to happen.

The longer you wait the more complex the flavor. I would recommend waiting at least 2 hours before consuming. 24 hours, better.

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