Who doesn’t love a pickle…? Pickles are eaten across all cultures around the world..we love pickles and I pickle anything and everything from garlic, jalapenos, cabbage of all sorts, cucumbers, onions, eggs, peppers, pineapple, tomatoes, star fruit, fish and more…
Pickles are mentioned at least twice in the Bible (Numbers 11:5 and Isaiah 1:8), were known to the ancient Egyptians (Cleopatra attributed some of her beauty to pickles), and Aristotle praised the healing effects of pickled cucumbers. The Romans imported all sorts of foods from the countries they conquered, pickling them for the journey in vinegar, oil, brine and sometimes honey. Garum or Liquamen, a fermented, salted fish-based condiment which was a dietary staple and has been found as far north as the Antonine Wall built by the Romans across what is now the Central Belt of Scotland, between the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Clyde.
That’s some history for a pickled cucumber which is said to be one of the first recorded pickles… sometime around 2030 BC in Mesopotamia…
I have also been called a little pickle in my time and have applied that description to my own kiddies it is a term of endearment to me it means they are bright, witty and a tiny little bit cheeky. A child who can stand up for themselves with a good sense of humour.
The name pickle as in the English word ‘pickle’ derives from the Middle English pikel, first recorded around 1400 and meaning a spicy sauce or gravy served with meat or fowl. This is different to but obviously related to the Middle Dutch source, pekel, meaning a solution, such as spiced brine, for preserving and flavouring food.
Star Fruit Relish:
Star Fruit or Carambola as it is also known as is a lovely vibrant yellow and due to its distinctive ridges when it’s cut it resembles a star hence its name.
The entire fruit is edible it has firm, crunchy flesh and is quite juicy. The taste is likened to that of a grape. There are two main types of star fruit the smaller fruit is sour(tart) and the larger fruit like I have in my garden is sweeter. But although sweet they very rarely have more than a 4% sugar content.
Here in Thailand they are cooked with shrimp or chicken or eaten raw dipped into the sugar/chilli mix which is commonly eaten with fruit here or just eaten with rock salt. It can be made into relishes, preserves and juice drinks, stewed with cloves or apples.
They are also used as a pretty garnish or in a salad with papaya and pineapple.
Star Fruit Relish:
- 8 cups of star fruit, thinly sliced and any seeds removed.
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp whole cloves tied in a muslin bag and slightly crushed.
- 4 cups of sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg( optional) see note below.
Wash and thinly slice the star fruit removing any seeds. Cover with the cider vinegar and stand overnight.
Drain the vinegar add sugar, salt and clove bag. Cook gently until the relish starts to thicken then allow to stand overnight.
In the morning remove the spice bag and reheat the mix after adding the nutmeg if used and bring back to the boil.
If you plan to store the star fruit chutney then omit the nutmeg as it will turn the relish a brown colour although it does add another dimension to the taste.
Put into hot jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
Enjoy with some cold meats or on bread and butter.
Did you know?
Here in Asia, more pickles are consumed per capita than any other region? I think as well as being delicious that it is a method given the hot temperatures of preserving food.
Foods are generally pickled in one of three ways salt/brine, oil or vinegar…Here Thais tend you use salt/brine rather than vinegar which many find too sour…Wherever you eat out you will find pickled vegetables either served with the meal or as a side dish.
Some popular pickles/vinegar here is Banana vinegar, naem hed (pickled mushroom), dok sa-no dong (pickled sesbania flowers and lotus stem) and kimchi.
Banana vinegar is made from a type of local banana and many Thais replace the commercially-produced vinegar that often comes with preservatives with banana vinegar. Pickled sesbania is a good side to any main dish or nam phrik. Sesbania is a small edible pea-shaped flower which is very popular here.
Food preservation was a good way to deal with the abundant supply of vegetable, especially those grown in the rainy season, before the invention of the refrigerator. Seasonal vegetables that were often pickled included spring onions, ginger and mustard greens, which can be found anywhere in Thailand; phak sian (cleome) is found in the North and Northeast, while luk Niang (Djenkol bean fruit), and sa-tor (stink beans) are mostly found in the South.
In some rural places, the big clay pots are still used to preserve food…
Any container can be used to pickle as long as it is non-reactive…Mason Jars are a popular Jar for pickles the first one was designed and patented by John Mason back in 1858 he designed it to specifically withstand high temperatures when it was necessary to sterilise the jars.
Pickles range from mild to spicy or fruity and never waste the pickle juice as it can be used in a Martini aptly named a Pickletini, I ad some to a bloody Mary and it is now a popular chaser a shot called a Pickleback…
Just going to check my Pork as my Braised Pork in Black vinegar should be braising nicely…Will let you know with images tomorrow…It is the first time I have used Black Vinegar…
International pickle week fits in nicely with National Vinegar month don’t you think?
Are pickles healthy?
Well, some store-purchased pickles contain sugar so beware or make your own and then you can omit the sugar…However, a medium-size pickle might pack 12 cals and who can only eat one? Just be aware…moderation. But pickles do contain sodium. Preserving any kind of food requires the addition of salt, and salt makes up about 5 per cent of most pickling recipes. Two small spears contain almost 600 mg of sodium, more than one-quarter of the recommended daily limit.
Fermentation is one method of pickling, but not all pickles are fermented.
When vegetables and fruits are fermented, healthy bacteria break down the natural sugars. This process is what gives fermented pickles their sour taste. The pickles sit in saltwater and ferment over many days.
When pickles aren’t fermented, vinegar gives them their tang. Vinegar itself is produced through a fermentation process, but only the kinds of vinegar that remain raw and unpasteurized, such as raw apple cider vinegar, retain parts of the “mother culture,” which provides that good bacteria.
Eating fermented foods may help with everything from insulin resistance to inflammation. Sauerkraut, one of the most popular fermented foods worldwide, has been shown to have anti-cancer benefits.
Pickles that are not fermented still deliver the benefits of vinegar, spices, and cucumbers. As I mentioned above drinking pickle juice has become a trend because media sources are promoting the benefits related to muscle cramps, weight loss, diabetes, and more.
Pickle juice is also a favourite of those following a ketogenic diet, who might need more sodium to manage electrolyte balance.
Cooking any food can break down heat-sensitive nutrients, including antioxidants. Pickling raw vegetables and fruits preserve their antioxidant powers.
Like anything else, I tend to discount wacky claims of instant inch loss/weight …I tend to eat what I eat because I enjoy eating it and also because I may know it contains certain vitamins and minerals for my well being…however moderation is the key and I don’t go overboard and only eat the one food item for every meal we need balance in our diets.. a good combination of food… if we are eating well and sensibly it should be enough…
We love pickles so what have I been pickling lately? Well not have I been fancying a lovely piece of Cod and Chips but I have been fancying a Doner Kebab…Where we used to get them years ago when in the Uk was a little Greek place which did the best kebabs and served with these wonderful pickled green peppers…That is what I am pickling…They are called Piperies Mikres Toursi…
- 36 thin peppers, such as Anaheim peppers, about 3 inches long, stems trimmed to 1/4 inch long
- 3 tablespoons coarse-grained salt
- Water, enough to cover the peppers
- 5 cups red wine, apple cider vinegar, white vinegar or spiced vinegar (any flavour)
Add the peppers to a large glass bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and then fill the bowl with cold water until it just covers the peppers. Soak for 6 hours, stirring occasionally.
Drain the water after 6 hours. Lay the peppers on clean towels until the peppers dry. When the peppers are dry, stuff them into clean and sterilized 1-quart mason jars. Pour vinegar into each jar, making sure to cover the peppers. Seal the jars according to the package instructions for the Mason jars.
Store the peppers in a clean, dry place for up to 3 months.
The only jar I could find was quite a big one and my peppers floated…What I did was fill 2 bags with salted water(just)in case they split and dropped them in the jar…the vinegar rose and my peppers are submerged so if you have jar wich just too big then this little tip is a godsend…
Once they are pickled then I will make my kebab mix which I haven’t made since I was in the Uk so for at least 8 years and those pickled peppers hopefully will be just what that kebab needs…
That’s all for International Pickle week… I hope you have enjoyed reading this post…Tomorrow I will update you on my dish using black vinegar and maybe some sauerkraut…Please stay safe and well..it ain’t over yet…xx
About Carol Taylor:
Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.
I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.
Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing.
Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!
Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a fabulous week and stay safe these are troubling times xx