- Better Living
A Little Pickle Can Spice Up Your Bland And Boring Dish
Pickles are packed with flavours and have some health benefits too
Are you one of those who likes a bit of pickle with their food, especially when the other items in the main course are bland or boring? Packed with flavours, a pickle can spice up your regular dish and is found in most Indian homes.
One of the oldest methods for food preservation, Mesopotamians were one of the earliest to pickle food in 2400 B.C., according to the New York Food Museum. It is believed that Egyptian queen Cleopatra credited pickles for her good looks while Roman Emperor Julius Caesar gave his troops pickles to eat, in the hope that they would lend physical and spiritual strength to the soldiers.
Pickling involves preserving vegetables in vinegar or soaking them in salt brine. The second option is the traditional way of making a pickle through fermentation—the good bacteria prevent the food from getting spoilt.
How healthy are pickles?
Not all pickles are gut-healthy probiotic food. “The jars of pickles you can buy off the shelf at the supermarket are sometimes pickled using vinegar and not the natural fermentation process using live organisms, which means they don’t contain probiotics,” says Dr David S. Ludwig, professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, in an article on fermented foods in Harvard Health Blog.
“To ensure the fermented foods you choose do contain probiotics, look for the words “naturally fermented” on the label, and when you open the jar look for telltale bubbles in the liquid, which signal that live organisms are inside the jar,” he adds.
Fermented pickles may also aid digestion. However, pickles have high salt content and, therefore, should be consumed in limited quantities. If you suffer from hypertension, you may want to avoid pickles.
Options to choose from
The right combination of seasonings and spices can make a big difference. From garlic to chilli to raw mango and cucumber, pickles are available in as many flavours as you can imagine. There is something for each palate too—sweet and sour, tangy or spicy.