Pickling (not to be confused with fermenting) is a wonderful way to begin experimenting with fruits and veggies. 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 fair variety of pickled products at your local grocery store. While store bought is of course convenient, it’s got nothing on the taste of homemade.
A talented chef has been kind enough to share his top notch recipe with me. Thank you Christian! Without further adieu I’ll pass it on to you. 😉
3 TBL star anise
4 TBL whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon
2 TBL black peppercorn
2 TBL whole coriander
3-4 bay leaves
2 dried arbol chili
2 TBL 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)
Wrap all spices (excluding salt) securely in cheesecloth. Pour water and vinegar in pot. Whisk in sugar and toss in spice wrap. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes. While boiling, chop choice fruits and veggies and place in glass jar for storing. Remove liquid from heat. Whisk in salt. Remove wrap and strain if necessary. Pour liquid over fruits and veggies. 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.