You may already have a fair idea of the pickling process – you may even have done it yourself from the comfort of your home, or you may have watched your grandmother pickled cucumbers, carrots, and whatnot. The beloved pickle has indeed been around for ages, and it has its place in history – not just in England but in the rest of the world. It’s entirely true – every country has its way of pickling vegetables, meat, and seafood, and everyone is undoubtedly familiar with the gherkin or pickled cucumber. But if you’re thinking of introducing it to your restaurant (as part of a dish or on its own) or are planning to bring your pickled products to market, it always pays to know more about them. So what is the pickling process, and what can be pickled? Here’s an overview.
- An introduction to the pickling process
The pickling process begins with simply preserving food (vegetables, fruits, meat, or seafood) in an acid bath or solution, mainly vinegar or brine (a mix of salt and water). In preserving in brine, the acid responsible for preserving the food – lactic acid, in this case – is produced by fermentation.
The pickling process is also known by another name, called brining, and the result is the same. But there is a distinction – in countries like Canada and the United States, the term ‘pickles’ usually refer to pickles made from cucumbers. In other countries, such as the United Kingdom, pickles mean all sorts of vegetables, but in many cases, the pickling of meat, fish, and even eggs is quite common. The pickling process for meat is often referred to as curing.
- The foods that can be pickled
All kinds of different foods can be pickled, although here in the UK, the most famous pickled foods include cucumber and onions. They can be bought as wholesale pickles from EE & Brian Smith suppliers. But many of the main vegetables available today can be preserved and pickled, either in a household or commercially.
The most common vegetables to be pickled include cucumbers and cabbage, followed closely by green (and black) olives. They account for the most significant volume of fruit and vegetables that undergo commercial pickling, especially in countries like the UK, Germany, France, the US, Canada, and many other places in the Western hemisphere. Aside from the massive volume of vegetables like the ones mentioned above, some other vegetables and crops are pickled, too, although in lesser volumes. These are capers, onions, garlic, cauliflower, carrots, beans, and other veggies.
In countries in Asia, fermented veggies are very popular. They are part of the daily diet! One prime example is kimchi, which, surprisingly, has gone through extensive studies. Contrary to popular belief, kimchi does not just refer to fermented cabbage and spices – kimchi refers to the general process of fermenting vegetables in Korea, which can include everything from cabbage (arguably the most popular) to radishes and eggplants and so on.
What’s thoroughly interesting about pickling is that it imparts a unique character and flavour profile to food. With pickling comes changes in texture, colour, and flavour that are inherently desirable to many.