Did Someone Say Pickles

Words by: Courtney Cunningham
Art by: Georgia Lilley

Preservation dates back millennia. Early humans learned that by dehydrating their meat — a form of curing — it lasted far longer than normal. Nowadays, refrigerators have removed the need of curing, but that doesn’t mean preservation has lost its use.

Other than allowing our delectable food to last longer, preserving can also make it taste better. Introducing: pickling!

The word pickle means salt or brine, two important components in the process of pickling. This process involves submerging fresh fruit or vegetables in either an acidic liquid or a saltwater brine, causing them to be less vulnerable to spoilage. Not only that, these fermented foods are amazing for your gut health as well as being anti-inflammatory.

Interested? Here are some recipes to get you started.

Spicy Cucumber Pickles

Ingredients

2 regular-sized cucumbers
2 banana shallots
2 tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp ground turmeric
2 star anise
75g caster sugar
150ml vinegar

Method

1. Slice cucumbers through the middle, then into fingers. Peel and finely slice the shallots.

2. Put the cucumbers and shallots in a colander. Sprinkle over 2 teaspoons of sea salt. After 45 minutes, rinse well.

3. Combine all the other ingredients in a pan and bring to the boil. Stir until the sugar dissolves.

4. Fit the cucumbers snugly into a sterilised jar, then pour over the liquid. Seal and leave for at least 24 hours.

Green Cabbage Kimchi

Ingredients

1 head green cabbage
4 tbsp coarse sea salt (less if using table salt,
about 3 tablespoons)
3 spring onions, roughly chopped
1/4 cup Korean red chilli pepper flakes
3 tbsp salted shrimp, saeujeot, finely chopped,
(or fish sauce)
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp grated ginger

Method

1. Remove tough outer leaves of the cabbage if
any, then cut into quarters and remove the core from each quarter. 

2. Cut each quarter into bite-sized pieces (about 5 centimetre squares). 

3. Rinse the cabbage and drain, then place in a large bowl. 

4. Dissolve the salt in 2 cups of water and toss well to coat evenly. Leave for 1 to 2 hours, or until the cabbages have softened, flipping over once or twice halfway through. 

5. Rinse the salted cabbage once and drain to remove excess water.

6. Mix the chilli pepper flakes, saeujeot, sugar, garlic, and ginger with 1/2 cup of water.

7. Add the chopped spring onions, the chilli mix, and 1 cup of water to the salted cabbage.

8. Mix everything well by hand until the cabbage pieces are well coated with the chilli mix. 

9. Place in a sterilised jar, firmly pressing down
to remove air pockets. 

10. Leave out at room temperature for half a day
or overnight, then refrigerate.

Sauerkraut 

Ingredients

1 kg cabbage
1 tsp Celtic sea salt or Himalayan crystal salt
3 bay leaves
4 black peppercorns

Method

1. Wash the cabbage and remove the outer leaves.

2. Grate or slice the cabbage finely.

3. Layer the cabbage and salt in a large glass or ceramic mixing bowl, massaging each layer
as you go.

4. As you massage, the cabbage will start to soften and release water. This will take about 15 min- utes. There should be about 5 centimetres of juices on top of the cabbage.  If this does not happen, make up a saltwater mixture of 15 grams of sea salt to 1 litre of water and add a little to the jar as necessary.

5. Add the bay leaves and peppercorns.

6. Pack the cabbage tightly into a sterilised jar, pressing down as you add the cabbage. The cab- bage should be completely submerged in the brine you’ve created.

7. Seal the lid and place the sauerkraut in a dark spot at room temperature for at least a week.

8. Refrigerate, then enjoy.

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