Fermented foods are making a great comeback. Some love them, others hate them. However, everyone agrees that pickles are a classic accompaniment, an ideal “meze” and they go perfectly with… a hearty legume dish. The good news? Starting today, you will be able to prepare them on your own! Why? Because I will teach you all their secrets, giving you -at the same time- tested recipes to guarantee your absolute success, even if it is the first time you’re making them.
A brief history of pickles...
The creation of the pickle began as a necessary solution so that households could extend the shelf life of certain foods. You see, pickling is a food preservation method that people used to resort to in the old days when refrigerators didn't even exist in their imagination. So, back then, the fermentation of foods was a necessity.
What do we need in order to make fermented foods?
For their preparation, we need a few simple ingredients that we find in every home:
- Fresh fruits or vegetables, not very ripe, preferably with a high water content (cucumbers, for example).
- Vinegar (as well as apple cider vinegar), oil, salt, and sugar (usually white, but also brown, when the recipe calls for it) and water (tap water, boiled or bottled if you are in an area with tap water high in salt).
- Spices, preferably whole since ground spices can “blur” our pickle. Moreover, several fresh herbs can be used.
Can we make pickles with all fruits and vegetables?
We can make pickles with many of them. Any characteristic examples? Both the white and the red cabbage. Cucumbers, carrots, capers, beets, bulb vegetables, artichokes, cherry tomatoes, eggplants, celery, sweet peppers, and hotter pepper as well. Of course, there are many more fruits and vegetables with which we can make pickles. However, apart from these, we can also make pickles with olives and eggs, too!
How do we make pickles?
We can make our own fermented foods in two main ways. One is with water and salt, while the other one is with vinegar. In addition, we can make pickles with both raw and boiled vegetables. It all depends on our taste, but also on our raw materials. In some cases, the vegetables can be put whole in the jar, in other cases finely chopped, while there is the alternative to mash them and create interesting sauces, ideal for both our burgers and sandwiches, as well as for our meats. What should we be careful of? Washing our vegetables very well before starting the whole process (especially if we are going to prepare our pickle with raw vegetables). It is important that they are completely clean when placed in the jar along with the rest of the ingredients.
Where do we use pickles?
Our imagination is the only limit here. As we have already said, we can accompany wine and ouzo with them. On cold winter days, however, they go well with a hot vegetable or legume soup. They can be used in our salads and sandwiches, while we can even boost our sauces with them, to give them a more characteristic and special flavor.
What now? Take a look at the recipes, decide which one you like the most, prepare it, and send me a photo!
Good luck and…enjoy!