Salting and Pickling
Salt is added to enhance taste and extend shelf life in foods such as butter, cheese, vegetables, bread and meat products. Dry salt-ing is used for meat, mango, amla and fish.
It is also an ancient preservation tech-nique. The preservation of fruits and vegetables using common salt, vinegar, oil and spices are referred to as pickling. The layer of oil that floats on the top of pickles prevents the entry and growth of microorganisms like moulds and yeast. Spices like turmeric, pepper, chilli powder and asafoetida retard the growth of bacteria. Vinegar provides an unfavorable acidic environment for microbial growth. The salt added absorbs water and prevents the growth of micro-organisms.
Pickles are good appetizers. They add palatability to the meal. They help in digestion by stimulating the flow of gas-tric juices. The nutritive value of the pick-les varies depending on the raw materi-als and methods of preparation adopted. Raw mangoes, lemon, amla, ginger, garlic, tomato, chilli, mixed vegetables such as potato, carrot, beans, peas, cauliflower are used to prepare pickle.
a. Salt: Common salt is used for pickling. Salt should be free from lime (Ca CO3) as it reduces the acidity of the vinegar in which brined vegetables are packed. Vegetables do not ferment when they are strongly brined by large quantity of salt. Spoilage of pickle is prevented by adding sufficient amount of common salt.
b. Vinegar: Vinegar acts as a preservative. To avoid dilution of the vinegar by the water liberated from the tissues, the vege-tables are generally placed in strong vine-gar of about 10 per cent acidity for several days before pickling.
c. Sugar: Sugar used in the preparation of sweet pickles should be of high quality. Sugar helps in the preservation of prod-ucts in which it is used.
d. Spices: Spices are generally added to all the pickles but the quantity added depends upon the kind of fruit or vegetable taken and the kind of flavour desired. Spices generally used are cardamom, dry chillies, cinnamon, clove, coriander seeds, pepper, turmeric, mustard, cumin and fenugreek seeds. Condiments such as ginger, garlic, mint, curry leaves and asafoetida are used. Spices are used either in the fresh or in the dry powder form.
e. Water: Only potable water should be used for the preparation of brine. Hard water interferes with the normal salt cur-ing of the vegetables.
f. Colouring and Hardening Agent: Natural colouring agent, turmeric is com-monly used in pickles, sauces and ketchups. Artificial colours are not generally added to pickle, although used at permis-sible limits. Alum is sometimes used to give firmness to the vegetables used for pickling.
There are five types of pickles.
Salt Pickles: Salt pickle adds taste to food and enhances digestive ability. The method of preparation involves addition of salt to vegetable and fruit pieces and allowing it to soak.
Spiced Pickle: This type of pickle is tastier since oil and spices are added for seasoning and preservation. Spoilage of
pickle is prevented by the addition of salt and spices.
Pickles Preserved by Lemon Juice: Vegetables and garlic pickles made with lime juice adds taste.
Vinegar Pickle: Vinegar is a dilute acetic acid. Vinegar is used as a preserv-ative for preparing tomato sauces, tomato pickle, chilli sauce and meat pickle.
Sweet Pickle: Sweet pickle is pre-pared by adding garam masala powder and sugar to fruits and sweet vegetables. Vegetables and fruits should be soaked in sweet vinegar and boiled for 5 to 6 minutes and mixed well, cooled and packed in the jar.