What's 4,000 yrs old and Makes You Pucker?
Pickles of course! The Mesopotamians were the first to begin soaking vegetables in an acidic brine to preserve them in 2400 BC. Throughout history, the art of pickling has been revered by some of the world's greatest leaders from Cleopatra, who valued pickles as a beauty secret, to Napolean Bonaparte, who believed pickles made his soldiers stronger and healthier. Even Shakespeare peppered his plays with pickles because Queen Elizabeth I supposedly loved pickles.
Pickles are created by immersing fresh fruits or vegetables in an acidic liquid or saltwater brine until they are no longer considered raw or vulnerable to spoilage. When we think of pickles, cucumbers commonly come to mind. Cucumbers were first introduced to other nations in 2030 BC from their native land of India. Pickled cucumbers are often lacto-fermented in saltwater brine. During this process lactic microbial organisms develop, which turn the naturally occurring sugars of foods into lactic acid. In turn, the environment becomes acidic quickly, making it impossible for any spoiling bacteria to multiply. Cucumber pickles can also be made with a salt and vinegar brine, a popular choice for home cooks. The brine, known as pickle juice, is sometimes used by athletes to treat dehydration, though it has yet to be proven as a true remedy.
Of course, pickles aren't limited to the dill and cucumber variety. They can be sweet, sour, salty, hot or all of the above. Pickles can be made with cauliflower, radishes, onions, green beans, asparagus and a seemingly endless variety of other vegetables and fruits.
When the English arrived in the New World, they brought their method for creating sweet pickles with vinegar, sugar and spiced syrup. Eastern Europeans introduced various forms of lacto-fermented cabbage, known as sauerkraut. The French serve tiny, spiced cornichons with heavy pâtés and pungent cheeses. In the Middle East pickles are served with every meal, from peppers to olives to lemons. Russians pickle tomatoes, among other things. Koreans have their kimchi, the Japanese pickle plums and daikon, and Italians pickle eggplants and peppers. Each area of the world has its own beloved variety of pickle.
Whatever pickle you prefer, prepare for plenty of probiotics and a pleased palate! Next time you stop in, check out our pickling supplies. We've got everything you need to perfect the perfect pickle!