Pickle products add spice to meals and snacks. The skillful blending of spices, sugar and vinegar with fruits and vegetables gives crisp, firm texture and pungent, sweet-sour flavor.
Various types of pickle products can be made depending on the ingredients used and the methods of preparation. There are four general classes:
- Brined Pickles or Fermented Pickles go through a curing process in a brine (salt and water) solution for one or more weeks. Curing changes the color, flavor and texture of the product. If the product is a fermented one, the lactic acid produced during the fermentation helps preserve the product. In brined products that are cured but not completely fermented, acid in the form of vinegar is added later to preserve the food.
- Fresh Pack or Quick Process Pickles are covered with boiling hot vinegar, spices and seasonings. Sometimes, the product may be brined for several hours and then drained, before being covered with the pickling liquid. These are easy to prepare and have a tart flavor. Fresh pack or quick pickles have a better flavor if allowed to stand for several weeks after they are sealed.
- Fruit Pickles are prepared from whole or sliced fruits and simmered in a spicy, sweet-sour syrup.
- Relishes are made from chopped fruits and vegetables cooked to desired consistency in a spicy vinegar solution.
The level of acidity in a pickled product is as important to its safety as to its taste and texture. Never alter the proportions of vinegar, food or water in a recipe and use only tested recipes. By doing so, you can prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum, a type of food poisoning that can be fatal.