Pickle & Pickles – Pickling Foods

02Sep08

Pickling Foods – Guide to Pickles

Pickles are great food accompaniments to certain food products – At least we think so. Whether it’s going to be black olives on your Cream Cheese baguette or Gherkins on your McDonalds burger patty, once it’s practical, it’ll always be practical. Pickles are easy to make and lasts very long – If you do it correctly. Do it the wrong way and it’ll spoil and rot in your cabinet or fridge. Pickles are available around Malaysia all year round – If you walk along streets like Jonker St. in Malacca, you’ll find tons of those. Also, if you go around a mall like Tesco, Jusco or Giant, you can also find them. Basically, you can’t run away from what you call these ‘Jeruk Masin‘ or ‘Jeruk Manis‘.

These pickles (as mentioned above) are used to just eat like that – But the ones that we’re going to mention here are those which you’re going to incorporate them into your foodstuff. Pretty neat for a start, but students (living in campuses or houses) can benefit a lot from these. Alternatively, housewives can also use these on their dinner table.

Common Pickling Methods

There are four (4) common pickling methods:

  1. Alcohol-based pickling
  2. Vinegar-based pickling
  3. Salt-based* pickling
  4. Oil-based pickling

*Brine refers to the salted water in salt-based pickling.

Pickling Prologue

Pickling can be done on basically anything. However, it depends also on its recipes and palate of your guests. Should you need to pickle some ingredient, keep in mind that you’re looking for a combined flavor – A new dish; not something which will cook another thing and forget about everything else. Canned products usually contain BRINE, as preservation is of importance. You don’t need to property preserve your pickles; anyway. All you need are simple methodologies of pickling.

  1. Select items that are ‘Hard’
    This can range from hard fruits (like nutmeg, young papaya or young mango) or red cabbage (sauerkraut), carrots or celery stalks.
  2. Keep tartness and flavor in mind – Just like food and wine pairing
    When you’re tasting your brine or vinegar, be sure to let them run around your tongue for a while, then see how it affects your whole mouth later – From the lips down to the throat, passing through the jaw, tongue and esophagus. Your brine or vinegar mix should be a stimulant, but not enough to hurt you if you need to taste another tablespoon of it.
  3. Do not be afraid to experiment
    Experimenting on various items could be a great start for you. You can follow recipes that you get over the internet or from your friends and family, then add in some spices to make it much tangier.
  4. Be creative and mix out great mixtures
    Keep this in mind: Pickling is all about mixing. if your mixologist in the bar can mix you up a great Vesper for you night away in the bar or a Submarine for your partner, this could just be your turn.

Techniques to Pickling

These pickling techniques are one of the most untaught and least realized. You can apply all of these methods inside here to get a robust taste and bouquet out of it – Or simply mix your way to perfection and see where you go from there.

  1. Liqueurs and Liquor – The Quickies

    Liqueurs and aperitifs give enough bang and tang on your plate already – Imagine if they are in your foodstuff now, left for over a hundred hours and now you’re biting it. A great way to start is to remember the ratio (Liquor:Liqueur:Water:Grenadine:Salt) to (0.2:1:0.2:0.2:pinch). Alternatively you can also use aperitifs alone and have some lemon rind in as your pickling solution. This is a quickie good enough for you to kick-ass on the dining table.

    Example: Limoncello and Lemon Rind pickling fresh peach slices and served as aperitif.

  2. Stimulating Herbs

    Your dry or fresh herbs should be first stimulated before pickling. Always keep in mind that for each and every dish you’re about to cook, you need to bring out the aroma in the herbs before succeeding its flavor in your food. Whether it’s going to be a stir-fry, toast, quick bake or blanch, you have to do them first. Blanch fresh herbs for maximum effect and toast dry herbs. Also, remember to keep their stalks, branches and/or other parts of the herbs body. Some provide a different flavor to your foods, like rosemary and thyme.

  3. Use Fresh, Organic ingredients

    Always do that, and keep your olive oil super fresh. Enough said.

  4. Keep them out of sunshine, and sanitized

    Pickles don’t work very well if you have sunshine over them. Some mixes may grow algae, some may rot and spoil or brine turn cloudy. Make sure you keep them in a dark, cool place, far away from children and animals

  5. Consider double-boiling

    Some food materials can keep longer if you do double boil – Some will spoil faster if you do double boil. Depending on your ingredients and liquid, always keep in mind that you don’t want any extra moisture in your air-tight jar. Note that double boiling an air-tight jar might also overcook your ingredients – So only do this for brines like herbs & meat.

  6. Secure lid

    On the lid, place a cheesecloth on top in order to avoid excess liquid from forming. Alternatively, you can also opt this out, but the cloth will not only give you indications of the sauce’s current status but also prevents excess liquid from forming then falling off into the jar. Make sure your cloth is clean and dry before you place it on the lid, then screw the cover.

Examples of Pickles

  • Pickled Baby Cucumbers
  • Pickled Capers
  • Pickled Lemon Rin
  • Pickled Cabbage and Herbs (Sauerkraut)
  • Pickled Turnip and Tamarind
  • Pickled Tomatoes and Basil
  • Pickled Garlic
  • Pickled Onions
  • Pickled Papaya, Bell Pepper and Pineapple
  • Pickled Apples
  • Pickled Turnip and Mango
  • Pickled Pork Slices
  • Pickled Grapes

Using Pickles

Pickles can be used in many different ways – Treat them as your seasoning, sauce base, topping, accompaniment, dessert, finishing, etc. Here are a few common uses of pickles in the kitchen:

  1. Sauce base

    One of the famous sauces Food Central employs in their kitchen: Port Wine Sauce and Sherry Sauce (Sweet Fortified Wine). Plums, grapes, oak wood, red sweet wine, Monin syrup and salt are added into a jar, sealed tight. During preparation, we usually reduce a house red wine with bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves and fresh oregano before going into another reduction of these grapes (this time with the sauce). This is the moment we compact the grapes to release its juices, then form a sauce.

  2. Accompaniments

    Famous accompaniments include pitted olives, capers, gherkins mixed with various other vegetables and cooked to make a ‘relish’, etc. Serves well with dressing or just alone, if you’d prefer that way. Sometimes, we also crumble in certain things like anchovies and nuts on these. This could also mean side dishes, for canapés and so forth.

  3. Cooking

    To use them in a dish, make sure that they don’t lose so much of their taste or they will mean nothing. For example, if you’re getting kimchi into your soup, that’s fine. But getting gherkins into your soup will not yield much, and if you don’t add in enough to somewhat overpower your soup a little, you’re getting nothing. Try to keep them fresh – They are meant to eat that way.

  4. Stuffing

    Using pickles for stuffing could be one of the best ways to create a stuffing ingredient. Make sure you have them release its full flavor – Remember, moisture is very important in pickles so you don’t want them to lose it. If you’re stuffing tomatoes or apples, chop them into tiny pieces. If you’re doing for chicken or turkey, make sure you mix well (whole or chopped) into the stuffing.

There could be many other uses, so bear in mind that Pickles aren’t just something you buy from the mart, and bring home to chow with recipes others give you or you’ve found over the internet.

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