Pickled vegetables might not be everybody’s idea of food heaven but top chefs and cookery writers want to persuade you otherwise.
Forget the dusty old jar of pickled cucumbers at the back of your granny’s pantry. Pickling 2015-style is quite, quite different.
— Matt Worswick (@MattWorswick) September 12, 2015
— Food Republic (@foodrepublic) September 6, 2015
— Ryan Stringer. (@RGStringer1) September 6, 2015
It’s not just fancy eateries and professional foodies who’re getting in on the pickling craze. According to the Daily Mail, Lakeland’s sales of pickling essentials like Kilner jars, pans and preserving spoons have increased by a whopping 400 percent in the last year.
More: 23 Recipes that prove you can (and should) pickle more than just cucumbers
Pickled food is perfect for the health-conscious. Not only does it boost our intake of fruit and vegetables, the pickling process gives it even greater benefits. When fruit or vegetables are sealed in a jar with vinegar they begin to anaerobically ferment (i.e. produce energy without oxygen).
Enzymes and vitamins are often created during the fermentation process, which break down the parts of the food that may be difficult to digest, making vitamins, minerals and nutrients easier to absorb. Other possible health benefits include relief from lactose intolerance and prevention of occurrences of inflammatory bowel disease, says former endurance athlete and healthy living advocate Mark Sisson.
Pickling is also a great solution for those veggies that aren’t quite as crunchy as you’d like. Instead of tossing them, pickle them!
The process couldn’t be easier. As far as equipment goes, you need two large cooking pots, one for preparing the veg and one for the canning process, canning jars and a set of tongs to lift the hot jars out of the boiling water.
You can pickle lots of kinds of vegetables but a general rule is that the stronger the vegetable the better, advises Good Housekeeping. So go for tough-skinned veggies like cucumbers and peppers and root vegetables like carrots and parsnips. You’ll also need cider vinegar or distilled vinegar, salt, sugar and dry spices.
To start your pickling journey, simply combine equal parts white vinegar and sugar in one of your pans, bring them to a boil, then pour the pickling liquid over your raw vegetables in the canning jars.
The veg will start to soften after a few hours but the full effect of the pickling takes a day or two to set in, reveals food blogger Averie Sunshine.
Get creative with your pickling: experiment with adding more vinegar or sugar to make your pickling liquid mixture more salty or sweet. Blend together your favourite spices to create interesting flavours, bearing in mind that flavours carry on ageing and marinating after the jars are sealed.