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May 31, 2012 10:35 AM

I *LOVE* Pickles!

Hi guys, been reading the site for yonks but I was compelled to make a profile and seek truths within the vast, bottomless spring of knowledge contained herein.

What caused me to take the plunge? Well, basically I just adore pickles, always have, mainly naturally soured ones (there's something strangely umami in the lactic acid bite of brined pickles that is less harsh and more savoury than vinegar'd pickles) but I also like brine/vinegar pickles such as torshi.

Now, I recently bought a jar of pickled red cabbage in the UK which is basically shredded red cabbage, salt, vinegar, and a tiny amount of sugar. This was so delicious that I went ahead and bought my own red cabbage, shredded it up, put it in a huge old pickle jar that had been sterilised with some salt, lots of sherry vinegar and water.

They fortunately came out crisp and delicious and not too sour, perfect for a pork pie or with some cold meats.

I've since looked up some recipes for pickled red cabbage online and all of them (apart from one which is torshi arnabeet wa koromb [cabbage and cauliflower pickle]) call for salting the shredded cabbage first, draining and washing off the excess salt. This struck me as frivolous and wasteful.

My question now (finally!) is: Why must the cabbage be salted and wilted before it's pickled? As I said my own red cabbage which I made extemporaneously is delicious. Admittedly, it lacks the depth of purple that the commercial red cabbage I had purchased had but otherwise it has the same, deliciously sulfuric smell, as the store bought cabbage.

This red cabbage was so good in a salad I made with grated carrot, olive oil/mustard/garlic, sea salt, radish and radish greens and crushed caraway seeds.

Finally, anyone else have good pickling ideas? I'm tempted to pickle carrots and cabbage together.

I must sound pregnant!

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  1. "I'm tempted to pickle carrots and cabbage together."

    Why not? I make my own giardiniera and pickle whatever I find at the market that looks good: cauliflower, carrots, kirby cucumbers, hot peppers, celery, green beans, asparagus, etc. Sometimes up to 5 or 6 different vegetables together. Go crazy!

    2 Replies
    1. re: ttoommyy

      Do you ever salt your vegetables first and drain them before pickling?

      There are some lovely Persian pickles made with grape must, sour grapes, celery, wild cucumber and a host of other exotic vegetables which you can often find in Persian/Middle-Eastern supermarkets.

      1. re: pickledFiend

        "Do you ever salt your vegetables first and drain them before pickling?"

        No, Ive never done that. And to clarify, I always do a quick refrigerator pickle and consume the giardiniera within a week. I am not processing this, so maybe salting the vegetables beforehand is not necessary. I'm no food scientist (I just play one in my kitchen) so don't take what i say for solid fact. :)

    2. My husband is very fond of an Alton Brown recipe for spicy pickled carrots called Firecrackers.

      1. Salt creates the right conditions for lacto-fermentation. Within a certain window, the bad bacteria are killed off and the favorable bacteria ferment your pickles.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JungMann

          I am aware that that is the case for sauerkraut and pickled cucumbers but in the case of pickled red cabbage the excess salt is washed off and the liquid drained; the resulting wilted cabbage is then covered in vinegar and brine.

          I want to know why for pickled red cabbage it must be wilted first. It's not, as you suggest, to create the right conditions for lacto-fermentation as it is the vinegar which provides the sourness.

        2. we have a recipe for coleslaw which calls for it to be salted and wilted so that the slaw dressing doesn't get runny from the water the cabbage releases. perhaps wilting the red cabbage is in an effort to avoid diluting the pickling liquid?

          3 Replies
          1. re: jujuthomas

            EXACTLY!! And this is the reason for salting, draining, & then quickly rinsing off the excess salt & draining again of many vegetables before pickled & some fresh uses. The salting process helps to extract & drain off excessivle moisture that would otherwise spoil the rest of the resulting product.

            1. re: jujuthomas

              I think it also takes any "old" or "hot" taste out of the cabbage. I sometimes soak cabage in water and drain and then salt and drain. It seems to keep longer.

              I love pickles too.

              I saw some commercial pickled brussel sprouts called "frog balls" I would like to make. They include dill.
              I would also like to make pickled tea smoked eggs.

              1. re: jujuthomas

                Hmm that's intriguing, maybe you're right since cabbage does contain a *lot* of moisture.

                I was trying to think of scientific reasons why that might be wrong but I can't think of any. However, I suppose one could add extra salt to account for the resulting "flood" of water.

                It's a mystery and no mistake!

              2. I live in northern California, and for a few weeks in early spring there are wild onions everywhere. They are not ramps, these onions reproduce at the root. But they are small, mild wild onions about the size of scallions but with a bulb shaped root end. Anyhow, I read an article about the scarcity of ramps on the east coast, and how harvesting them is limited, and how people who know where they grow guard that information. So, I thought that somehow I really should preserve those wild onions that are so plentiful here. I wanted to keep as much of the pure flavor as I could, so I did a very simple brine of water, white vinegar, a little salt and sugar, and the flowers of the onions. I made one batch wtih thyme, one with rosemary and one with summer savory. They came out great.

                My family eats a lot of pickled hot peppers, so I've fooled around with those quite a bit. I take a basic brine and add cilantro, scallions, red pepper flakes, and usually some sliced carrots. Those come out great too.

                I have found that homemade pickles are kind of like homemade cookies - a completely different product than those available commercially. I too love pickles. I've always made these processing them in a canner, mostly so that I can preserve them as gifts year 'round.