What are some unusual Pickle Recipes?

In many parts of the world, the availability of food is irregular, depending on the local climate, growing seasons, and other factors. To help guarantee food for the lean times in these cycles, and to permit the transportation, storage and commercialization of edible substances, various techniques for preserving perishable food beyond its natural duration have been developed. One of these is pickling, which can be described as isolating foodstuffs from the air and from bacteria by covering them with an acidified liquid in closed containers. This oversimplified chemical definition gives no idea of the pleasing flavors which such products can present. Three examples of delicious and unusual pickle recipes are German sauerkraut, Korean kim chee (pickled cabbage), and American watermelon pickles.

Sauerkraut is a German compound word, meaning sour leaves, and refers to fermented and pickled cabbage leaves. While many people love these traditional central European preserves, some consider the enjoyment of this dish to be an acquired taste. Sauerkraut is made by removing the outer leaves of 2 heads of your favorite variety of cabbage (there are in fact many types), washing the full heads, splitting each head in four through the central core, and removing these cores. Shred the leaves finely with a knife or grate shredder. Mix thoroughly by hand in a large bowl or small tub with 2 - tablespoons of sea salt (healthier than refined salt), kneading the cabbage like dough to bruise the shredded leaves. The cabbage will start to release its liquid content during this process.

This juice will help prevent the contact of air with the fermenting leaves, thus promoting the growth of anaerobic bacteria (micro-organisms that live without air), instead of aerobic bacteria which just cause the cabbage to rot instead of fermenting. Now pack the cabbage into jars, or a stone crock if you have one, a few inches of shredded leaves at a time, cover with brine, and add a few more inches of leaves. Press the solid material with a wooden spoon or other round wooden tool, to pack as densely as possible and get out any air.

Repeat this process until all the cabbage is in jars (this should make about 3 liters, so you can use a 4 liter gallon jar, or several smaller jars). Cover completely with liquid if the juice from manipulating the leaves is not enough to cover the cabbage, make additional brine from 1 tablespoons of salt in a liter of cold water, and cover till no solid material has contact with the air. Leave 1-2 cm of space below the lids. Close the lids and store in a shallow tray to catch any brine that may escape during the fermentation process. Let sit for 2-3 months, testing the flavor of one jar periodically (once a week is enough) to see if the fermentation has reached the level you prefer. When ready, store in a cold place (the refrigerator, if nothing else is available). Traditionally, sauerkraut is eaten with sausage or other meats. But it can also be served as a side dish with other foods, or cooked with sauted onion and a little chopped pimiento, and topped with sour cream.

Kim chee or kimchi is another fermented cabbage dish, very traditional in Korean kitchens. This is usually made from celery cabbage, also called Chinese or napa cabbage, with light green leaves on long celery-like stalks which form an oblong head. It can also be made from other white cabbages, but this will change the flavor a bit. Wash the cabbage, cut all the leaves into roughly 3-5 cm squares, and mix by hand in a bowl or small tub with 2 tablespoons of sea salt. Let it stand for 15 minutes, then remove from brine and wash thoroughly in a colander with cold water, to remove excess salt.

Cut 4 green onions into 3-4 cm lengths, mince 1 large clove of garlic, chop 1 dried hot red chile pepper, and grate about 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger root. Mix all these with the cabbage pieces, adding 1 tablespoon of sea salt. Cover completely with cold water and plastic wrap in a ceramic bowl, and let it stand at room temperature for several days, up to a week or so. Uncover a corner and taste it once a day, to see if it's reached the level of fermentation that you enjoy. When the acid taste is considered sufficient, move it to the refrigerator and serve as a side dish with meals. Kim chee goes well with noodles, fried with rice, and with slivers of bulgogi, Korean marinated beef barbecue.

Still another unusual pickle recipe is watermelon pickles. This is a side dish from America's Deep South, and is actually the pickled inner rind of watermelon, not the juicy fruit. Instead of fermentation to create the acid medium for these pickles, vinegar (acetic acid) is used. Start with about 1 kg of the rind, trimming away the thin, hard outer layer. Most people also remove any of the pink inner fruit, but others leave a little of this pink part to give the pickles a different appearance. Cut this rind into squares of about 3 cm each, until enough is obtained to fill 6 cups. Put this in a bowl and cover with salt brine (about cup sea salt dissolved in 1 liters of cold water). Leave it over night to absorb the salt. Drain off the brine, wash the rind thoroughly to remove as much of the excess salt as possible. Cover with cold water in a pot and cook for 25-30 minutes, until tender.

At the same time, in a another pot, mix 2 cups crystal sugar (the least refined commercial sugar), 1 cup of white wine vinegar or apple vinegar (depending on your taste), 1 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of stick cinnamon (broken into medium sized pieces), and 1 teaspoons of whole cloves. Cook this syrup for 10 minutes on low heat, then strain to remove the spices. Drain the water from the watermelon rinds and put them into the syrup, covering the pot. Heat the syrup again, simmering during 25 minutes. The rind should be quite transparent.

Either serve it freshly made, or can it as follows: boil four liter glass jars and lids in a deep pot or pressure cooker without the cover, using enough water to cover the jars. Remove the sterilized jars from the hot water, then pour out about half the water. Fill hot jars with hot pickles, covering the rinds completely with syrup in each jar, leaving 1 cm of air below the lid, and seal. Return the jars to the pot of hot water, covering completely (add more hot water if needed), and heat water to boiling. After boiling 5 minutes, remove the jars and let cool on a cloth or cutting board (don't let hot jars touch a cold counter, as they may shatter). Whatever pickles didn't fit into the jars are sure to disappear in seconds.

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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )

Disclaimer: The suggestions in the article(wherever applicable) are for informational purposes only. They are not intended as medical or any other type of advice