Food is gravitating back towards traditional methods of preparation so it’s no surprise that pickling and fermenting is becoming more prevalent on menus. It is essentially a way of both preserving food as well as a great way to add a complex acidity to dishes. Think of the delicious piquancy an atchar adds to a hot spicy curry, or the crunchy tang that a pickled cucumber adds to a meaty burger. If you are attempting to pickle your own food for the first time, here are three of my golden rules.
1 Make sure utensils and equipment is sterile: Boil or wash the equipment in a dishwasher to make sure you are eliminating any unwanted bacteria that may ruin your pickle.
2 Pickle foods at their freshest: There’s no point going through all the trouble of preserving something when it’s not at its best, the quality of product you begin with will determine the final pickled result.
3 Be patient: As with most traditional cooking processes, pickling takes time both to prepare and for the flavour to develop – don’t rush the process, good things are worth the wait.
Here’s a simple recipe to get you started on your pickling adventure. My pickled cucumbers are great served just as a nibble or snack, on sandwiches, in salads or served as an accompaniment to charcuterie.
- 1¾ cups water
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- 4 tbs white sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
- 4 black peppercorns
- 1 cucumber
- In a pot, combine water, vinegar, sugar, bay leaves, mustard seeds and peppercorns, then stir over low heat until sugar dissolves.
- Boil for 2 minutes then set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Using a peeler, peel long strips of cucumber to form ribbons then place the cucumber into a jar.
- Pour the picking liquid onto the cucumbers, making sure that all the cucumbers are submerged in the liquid.
- Seal and place in the fridge to mature for 3 days before eating.
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