30. June 2020
The Joys of Pickling
I know what you’re thinking: pickling? A tradition as old as the Bronze Age, pickling perishable food in a vinegary brine is sometimes seen today as the preserve (ahem) of Middle-Ages peasantfolk, desperately trying to make a summer harvest last through winter.
Far from a relic of the past, pickling is the perfect antidote to contemporary neuroses. In our breakneck capitalist society, with next-day Amazon deliveries and thousands of TV shows at our fingertips to pretend we’ve watched, we have been taught to place instant gratification above all else. If you’re not tripping over yourself squeezing every last drop of productivity out of your day, then are you even living? If you cannot turn your hobby into a side hustle into a multinational conglomerate, aren’t you just wasting your time? Frankly, it’s exhausting.
That’s why I love pickling. It’s not particularly Instagrammable (believe me, I’ve tried). You could try to monetise it, but it will never be the secret to your own personal Etsy empire. You don’t even get to enjoy the fruits of your labour for a few days at least. You put something edible in a jar, cover with a simmered brine, and wait. And wait.
I’m not saying pickles solve every one of my post-industrial woes; that’s what my anti-depressants are for. Here’s what they can do: offer some respite from the big bad world; provide you permission to step off the hamster wheel; let you breathe.
And they are freaking delicious. With everything.
Classic pickled cucumber recipe:
What you’ll need:
- 2 cucumbers
- 500ml apple cider vinegar (white, red, or rice wine will work; dear god don’t waste your balsamic)
- 500ml cold water
- Clove of garlic
- Handful of cumin seeds
What to do:
- Wash and trim the ends off the cucumbers. Chop them into slices (the size is up to you, but try to keep them fairly uniform so they all pickle the same). Set aside.
- In a pot, mix together the vinegar and water (I like my ratio, but feel free to play around with your own). Add a generous amount of salt and around 50g of sugar.
- Bring the brine to boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer for around 6-10 minutes, or until the salt and sugar has dissolved. Taste frequently, and add more sugar if necessary (it will probably be necessary).
- Arrange the cucumber in a glass jar. Add some other ingredients; I’d recommend a clove of crushed garlic and some cumin seeds for your first time, but experiment to your heart’s content.
- Pour in the brine until the jar is around ¾ full. Screw on the lid, and leave the jar out for an hour. Then, place it in the fridge. For the best-tasting pickles, leave for two days before opening.
Enjoy your classic pickled cucumbers!