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Pickles

Ingredients: Proportions by weightfor 100 parts sliced green mango:
4 parts salt
5 parts fenugreek seeds
5 parts ginger
2 parts turmeric
2 parts red chillies
3 parts black pepper
3 parts fennel
30 parts cooking oil
Ingredients: Method
Mix mango with salt, keep in a warm place (in the sun, if you have it), until the green colour of the mango slices fades. Add spices, mix well. Dip each slice in hot (190°F 90°C) oil, pack in sterile glass jars, and cure for couple more days before use.

One can surmise that we enjoy the textures, smells and flavours of well-preserved foods, precisely because this enjoyment conveys an evolutionary advantage—just as an aversion to putrefaction does.

Before the advent of canning, pasteurisation and refrigeration, preservation of food, from times of plenty to times of need, was vital to survival. Technologies for arresting spoilage and preserving nutritive value were born of neccessity. These include drying, smoking, salting, sugaring, and fermentation, or pickling. Preservation creates new flavours and textures, which we continue to enjoy.

http://antoine.frostburg.edu/chem/senese/101/acidbase/images/redcabba.jpgRed-cabbage juice contains anthocyanin, the pigment that makes red cabbage purple, cornflowers blue, and poppies red, it appears red at pH 4 and below, so makes a convenient indicator to test your pickles.

The distinguishing characteristic of pickling is acidity. Most bacteria cannot grow below pH 4 or above pH 9; pickles should have a pH < 4.6. Various natural antimicrobials are used to improve a pickle's longevity, and flavour: mustard, garlic, chilli, allspice, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, oregano, tarragon, sage, basil, rosemary, thyme, dill, and ginger, just for example, are all antimicrobial.

Three acids play a major rôle in food—citric, acetic and lactic. Citric acid comes from fruits such as limes and lemons. Acetic acid is the product of a mixed fermentation of carbohydrate by yeasts, which convert starches and sugars to alcohol, and Acetobacter which consumes alcohol and oxygen to produce vinegar.Acetobacter aceti can make vinegar with up to 14 per cent acetic acid. Normal vinegar contains 4-8% acetic acid by volume. Both of these are important ingredients in some pickle recipes. However, most traditional pickles rely on lactic acid, produced as the major end product of the fermentation of carbohydrates by bacteria from the genera Lactobacillus, Leuconostoc, Pediococcus and Streptococcus.

Confusingly, some pickles are prepared from foods initially treated with alkali, but this is just preparatory.

Another popular, hot, salty mango pickle uses no oil. The fruits are peeled, sliced, and mixed with 20% salt, 7.5% chilli powder and 1% asafoetida, by weight. The mixture is kept in a warm place (in India, in the sun) for few days, with frequent stirring, then packed in clean glass jars.

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