Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Some thoughts on Pickling...

I've been experimenting with preserving food for a while now, salting, curing and pickling. I've found that when preserving your own food pickling is a good place to start, it's relatively easy, quick and cheap. I've dabbled with curing and salting, salami and fish, and have future plans for brasola and bacon.

Pickling embraces each of the seasons, but also defys them as it allows you to eat things all year long. Fresh sharp zingy young vegetables remain so delicious pickled and there is a pickle to suit nearly every meal, whether meat, fish or cheese... Fridges were a luxury as little ago as the 1950's so things had to be stored for future use in increasingly inventive ways. The necessity to preserve and not waste is one we could learn some lessons from these days, with statistics suggesting recently that up to 30% of food finds it's way to our bins rather than our tables.

Pickled fish, herring or cured gravadlax, dill pickles, sweet cucumber pickles... Pickling and preserving are both very prevalent in Scandinavian dining. Something that is very on trend at the minute. A combination of the influence of furniture giant Ikea, the crime fiction of Henning Mankell and successful TV shows such as The Killing and Borgen have raised the profile of Scandinavian culture in the past few years. Winter fashion has gone a bit Scandi recently with fur-lined boots, and cable knit, Nordic patterned jumpers, while in the culinary world with Noma in Copenhagen being acclaimed the World's Best Restaurant in 2012 their style of cooking is influencing chefs worldwide.

'Secrets of Scandinavian Cooking…Scandilicious' by Signe Johansen is current on my reading list. Signe grew up in Norway and now runs a blog about cooking, baking and living with Scandinavian flair. She also runs the 'EatScandi' Brunch & Supper Club. I'm looking to improve my Smörgåsbords and I think she may have some tips...

Over Christmas Ocado launched its first Scandinavian Christmas Shop as "Scandinavian food has seen a massive rise in popularity across the UK this year and we like to be ahead of the trends." Top sellers were Nyakers pepparkakor – traditional Swedish ginger biscuits and the traditional Scandinavian favourite, pickled herring. It isn't that difficult to make it yourself if you're feeling adventurous... I imagine Sarah Lund sits eating pickled herring whilst wearing chunky knitware all the time, well, when not running into dark basements in pursuit of armed killers...

So I thought I would share my two favourite pickles, one easy, one a bit more complicated, Sweet Cucumber Pickle, a delicious sharp sweet crunchy pickle and Pickled Rollmop Herring, soft spiced pickled fish that is fresh and delicious. Click on each link for the full recipe.

I've also been experimenting with pickled grapes to go with cheese, pickled apples, and am keen to try some pickled garlic and lemons soon.

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Happy cooking! Let me know if you make any of my recipes, send a picture, and let me know any of your own recipes and tips! Anna x