Preserving food by pickling is an ancient practice. In every cuisine there is some form of pickled food and in many place these provide a very unique character and a key sense of identity.
One could wax lyrical about an English summers day with a ploughmans lunch. A pint ofbest bitter a sharp chedder cheese and a crunchy pickled onion. Add a slice of pork pie and a spoon of brilliant mustardy yellow piccalilli. Ask for that elsewhere in the world and not only will it be unavailable it will mean nothing.
This is a global phenomenon. Just thinking about pickled ginger and immediately you are in japan, dill pickles and the US burger, Pickled lemons and the North african tagine. Lime or mango pickle takes you to India. Kimchi to Korea. The Giardiniera to Chicago (or New Orleans Muffeletta), green beans to Louisiana. French Cornichons. German Sauerkraut.
Its not just vegetables. Soused herrings in Scandanavia, Swedens famous Surstromming (the worlds smelliest food), pickled cockles in a London fish and chip shop. South Africa has Kapsie kerrievis, the Easter speciality of curried pickled fish.
Meats are also pickled. pickled pigs ears and tails are soulfood classics. Pickled sausage is popular in Eastern European and makes a great bar snack. Corned beef or salt beef has been the making of many great sandwiches and bagels.
The traditional role of pickling to preserve foods has been extended to use pickling for texture and for flavour.
There is a world of pickles out there to try. Here are some links:
- Japanese Pickles (Tsukemono)
- Watermelon rind pickles
- Pickled jalapenos
- Pickled mushrooms
- Quick pink pickled onions
- Quick sauerkraut
- Green bean pickle
- Pickled okra