Here’s How We Pickle Around the World

Coming from a family of at-home gardeners, we have always planted a summer garden. Typically, we grow herbs and vegetables such as basil, sage, tomatoes, and of course, cucumbers. 

Every summer, we plant cucumbers so we can make our family’s favorite – refrigerator pickles. Never heard of refrigerator pickles before? Essentially, they are homemade bread and butter pickles, but more delicious!

As we once again got ready to make this favorite summer treat once again, I started thinking about all the other types of pickling techniques throughout the world. Be inspired to make your own pickles with these ideas…

Keep a handy herb garden to make your pickles

How We Got Pickling

Did you know that pickling started over 4,000 years ago? Preserving food in vinegar or oils is one of the oldest methods of food storage in the world. Pickling got its start when the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia soaked cucumbers in acidic brine to keep them fresh. 

Now, countries all over the world have different methods and varieties of products that they use to make their favorite “pickle” recipe.

India: Mango Achar

Cucumbers are native to the Indian Sub Continental Region, and the Tigris Valley is where historians claim pickling first got its start. Today, people in India use a variety of fruits and vegetables, which they brine in oil instead of vinegar.  

One of the most commonly found at every meal in India is a sweet and spicy mango pickle. To make Mango Achar, use fresh unripe green mangoes, mustard paste, mustard oil, red chili pepper, and other spices. 

You can buy kosher dill pickles at WholeFoods or order them online

United States: Dill Pickles

The word “pickle” actually has Dutch or German origin. So it is not surprising that the American staple – dill pickle – did not originate from the United States at all. The concept of a dill pickle was brought over during the wave of immigration in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Before that, the Jewish population in many Eastern European countries still fermented cucumbers to add flavor to their otherwise simple winter meals.

The key to making a dill pickle lies in both the quality of spices and in the duration of time that the pickles are allowed to ferment. Dill pickles are an easy snack to make at home and pair well with sandwiches. 

Korea: Kimchi

Like in many countries around the world, the tradition of Korean kimchi started as a result of harsh winters that did not make for a good growing season. What started as a simple dish of cabbage soaked and fermented in salt, has over time changed and adapted under the introduction of influences from other cultures over time. 

Today, kimchi is typically made with Chinese cabbage or vegetables mixed with the key ingredient of gochugar (Korean chili pepper).

Pair your kimchi pickle with Korean pancakes and kimchi fried rice

Sweden: Pickled Herring

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Fish on a Friday the saying goes, so after three days in the pickle i plate my soused herring, here with compressed cucumber, beetroot, fennel fronds, fennel mayonnaise, capers and some wee white radish flowers picked by @tablejamesmcneish – really enjoyed getting my Scandi head on for this, great fish as ever from @welchfishmongers – will come back to this, flavours are all there though so happy enough with this. Have a great Friday folks, stay safe. Keep your gatherings small, we’ve come this far don’t fuck it up 🙏 #pickledherring #chefbarrybryson #pickling #fishonafriday #plating #scaniinspired #scottishfood #wildherbs #pickyourown #learning #developmentplate #newthoughts #keeponcooking #myleithkitchen #chefinscotland #privatechef #illbringtherestauranttoyou #staysmall #dontfuckitup #personalchefedinburgh @foodinedinburgh @thestaffcanteen @findingfantasticfood thanks for the shopping company @danielpioro

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The tradition of pickling herring began in the medieval period in Sweden. As a water-locked country, herring were found in abundance and was an easy product to export outside of Sweden. However, in order to keep the product fresh so that it could reach further distances, they began to pickle the fish. It was also a good way to have sustenance during the long and cold Swedish winters. 

Today, many Scandinavian communities pickle herring simply in vinegar. You can also add vegetables such as onions, dill and allspice to add a little more flavor. Swedish meals often consist of tapas like cold dishes, called smörgåsbord, where you will find these herring pickles along with smoked salmon, caviar, cheese and bread.

Germany: Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is one of those foods that you think of as distinctly German. Surprisingly, sauerkraut originated on the other side of the globe – in China! During the construction of the Great Wall of China, workers typically ate rice and cabbage in the summer time. In the winter, though, they added wine to the mixture, which resulted in fermentation. 

Today, German chefs have traded wine for salt. You can make this delicious side dish simply by adding salt to finely chopped cabbage. Then, allow the mixture to sit until the acid in the cabbage, creates a sour flavor that is distinctive of sauerkraut.

~By Jordan Dunn, Marketing and Communications Intern at Go Eat Give. Jordan is a Public Relations and Communications Marketing Major at Siena College in Upstate NY. She has a passion for writing, traveling, and advocacy. Follow her on Facebook and Blog for more about her personal travel stories.