History in a Jar -The Story of Pickles

An article by Tori Avey published on The History Kitchen in 2014

tigriscleopatraIt is rumored that they were one of Cleopatra’s prized beauty secrets. They make apperances in the Bible and in Shakespeare’s writing. Pregnant women have been known to crave them along with ice cream. Pickles have been around for thousands of years, dating as far back as 2030 BC when cucumbers from their native India were pickled in the Tigris Valley. The word “pickle” comes from the Dutch pekel or northern German pókel, meaning “salt” or Shakespeare“brine,” two very important components in the pickling process. Throughout history pickling was a necessity, as it was the best way to preserve food for a long period of time. As one of the earliest mobile foods, pickles filled the stomachs of hungry sailors and travelers, while also providing families with a source of food during the cold winter months.

Pickles are created by immersing fresh fruits or vegetables in an acidic liquid or saltwater brine until they are no longer considered raw or vulnerable to spoilage. When we think of pickles, cucumbers commonly come to mind. Pickled cucumbers are often lacto-fermented in saltwater brine. During this process lactic microbial organisms develop, which turn the naturally occurring sugars of foods into lactic acid. In turn, the environment becomes acidic quickly, making it impossible for any spoiling bacteria to multiply. Cucumber pickles can also be made with a salt and vinegar brine, a popular choice for home cooks. The brine, known as “pickle juice,” is sometimes used by athletes to treat dehydration, though it has yet to be proven as a true remedy.

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Kosher dills have a unique history of their own. In The Book of Jewish Food, Claudia Roden explains that pickled vegetables were a dietary staple for Jews living in the Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Russia. The sharp flavor of pickles proved a welcome addition to the bland bread-and-potato diet of these cold weather countries. For several generations, it was an autumn custom for Ashkenazim to fill barrels with cucumbers, beets and shredded cabbage. The mixture was left to ferment in a warm place for several weeks, then relocated to cool, dark cellars. The pickles would last through the long cold winter until spring, when new crops of fresh produce were available.

New York 1900When a heavy influx of eastern European Jews arrived in New York City during the late 1800s and early 1900s, immigrants introduced kosher dill pickles to America. Cucumbers were washed, then piled in large wooden barrels along with dill, garlic, spices, kosher salt and clean water. They were left to ferment for a few weeks to several months; shorter fermenting time produced brighter green “half sours,” while longer fermentation resulted in “full sours.” Pickles were sold on pushcarts in the immigrant tenement district of New York City. Over time, Jewish-owned shops selling pickles straight out of the barrel began appearing in droves. Eventually, pickling became a profitable business within the Jewish community. Today, a plate of pickles is usually served complimentary with a meal at the best Jewish delis.

masonHome pickling was made much easier and more sanitary during the 1850s, when two essential canning tools were invented. First, a Scottish chemist by the name of James Young created paraffin wax, which helped to create a seal for food preserved in jars. A few years later, John Mason developed and patented the first Mason jar. Mason’s jars were made from a heavyweight glass that was able to tolerate the high temperatures used in canning and processing pickles.

Of course, pickles aren’t limited to the dill and cucumber variety. They can be sweet, sour, salty, hot or all of the above. Pickles can be made with cauliflower, radishes, onions, green beans, asparagus and a seemingly endless variety of other vegetables and fruits. When the English arrived in the New World, they brought their method for creating sweet pickles with vinegar, sugar and spiced syrup. Eastern Europeans introduced various forms of lacto-fermented cabbage, known as sauerkraut. The French serve tiny, spiced cornichons with heavy pâtés and pungent cheeses. In the Middle East pickles are served with every meal, from peppers to olives to lemons. Russians pickle tomatoes, among other things. Koreans have their kimchi, the Japanese pickle plums and daikon, and Italians pickle eggplants and peppers. Each area of the world has its own beloved variety of pickle.

Meatloaf Fifties Style / Femtitalls Kjøttbrød

A typical dinner recipe from “God Og Billig Hverdagsmat”
(Nice And Inexpensive Everyday Food)
published  by N W Damm & Sønn in 1955

Meatloaf Fifties Style / Femtitalls Kjøttbrød

There is a delightful simplicity to the recipes in this book, completely free of all the show off vanity one finds in particularly cook books from the late eithties and early nineties.

This is straightforward everyday food presented simply and honestly, just like the Scandinavian fifites themselves. The recipe is from one of my mother’s cook books, now mine, and I’m very fond of it – Ted

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Liqueur Pancakes / Likørpannekaker

A classic dessert recipe found in “Desserter” (Desserts)
published by Hjemmets Kokebokklubb in 1981

Liqueur Pancakes / Likørpannekaker

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The History of Bacon

000_bacon_01Bacon or “bacoun” was a Middle English term used to refer to all pork in general. The term bacon comes from various Germanic and French dialects. It derives from the French bako, Old High German bakko, and Old Teutonic backe, all of which refer to the back. There are breeds of pigs particularly raised for bacon, notably the Yorkshire and Tamworth.

The phrase “bring home the bacon” comes from the 12th century when a church in Dunmow, England offered a side of bacon to any man who could swear before God and the congregation that he had not fought or quarreled with his wife for a year and a day. Any man that could “bring home the bacon” was highly respected in his community.

Bacon Throughout History

000_bacon_06Roman Era: According to food historians, the Romans ate a type of bacon which they called petaso, which was essentially domesticated pig meat boiled with figs, then browned and seasoned with pepper sauce.

1600’s: Bacon, a relatively easy to produce and cheap meat source, becomes a staple for European peasants. Smoked Bacon is considered the highest quality.

1770’s: John Harris, an Englishman, is credited as the forefather of large scale industrial bacon manufacturing. He opened his company in Wiltshire, still considered the bacon capital of the world.

000_bacon_041924: Oscar Mayer introduces pre-packaged, pre-sliced bacon to America.

1990’s: Ordinary bacon is no longer enough to satisfy bacon lovers. Many varieties of bacon spin-offs appear, including Chicken-Fried Bacon and Bacone

21st century: Bacon has become super popular, with mebsites, blogs, a Wikia (Hey! look at me!), t-shirts and a plethora of products all appreciating the goodness that is Bacon.

Bacon Trivia

  • Bacon is one of the oldest cuts of meat in history; dating back to 1500 BC.
  • In the 16th Century, European peasants would proudly display the small amount of bacon they could afford.
  • The Yorkshire and Tamworth pigs are bred specifically for bacon.
  • 70% of all bacon in the US is eaten at breakfast time.
  • More than 2 billion pounds of bacon is produced each year in the US.
  • Until the first world war, bacon fat was the cooking fat of choice in most US households, when prepackaged pig lard became commonly available.

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Bacon is a meat product prepared from a pig and usually cured. It is first cured using large quantities of salt, either in a brine or in a dry packing; the result is fresh bacon (also known as green bacon). Fresh bacon may then be further dried for weeks or months in cold air, or it may be boiled or smoked. Fresh and dried bacon is typically cooked before eating, often by frying. Boiled bacon is ready to eat, as is some smoked bacon, but may be cooked further before eating.

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Bacon is prepared from several different cuts of meat. It is usually made from side and back cuts of pork, except in the United States and Canada, where it is most commonly prepared from pork belly (typically 000_bacon_05referred to as “streaky”, “fatty”, or “American style” outside of the US and Canada). The side cut has more meat and less fat than the belly. Bacon may be prepared from either of two distinct back cuts: fatback, which is almost pure fat, and pork loin, which is very lean. Bacon-cured pork loin is known as back bacon.

Bacon may be eaten smoked, boiled, fried, baked, or grilled and eaten on its own, as a side dish (particularly in breakfasts in North America) or used as a minor ingredient to flavour dishes (e.g., the Club sandwich). Bacon is also used for barding and larding roasts, especially game, including venison and pheasant. The word is derived from the Old High German bacho, meaning “buttock”, “ham” or “side of bacon”, and cognate with the Old French bacon.

000_bacon_02In contrast to the practice in the United States, in continental Europe these cuts of the pig are usually not smoked, but are instead used primarily in cubes (lardons) as a cooking ingredient, valued both as a source of fat and for its flavour. In Italy, this product is called pancetta and is usually cooked in small cubes or thinly sliced as part of anantipasto.

Meat from other animals, such as beef, lamb, chicken, goat, or turkey, may also be cut, cured, or otherwise prepared to resemble bacon, and may even be referred to as “bacon”. Such use is common in areas with significant Jewish and Muslim populations, both of which prohibit the consumption of pigs. The USDA defines bacon as “the cured belly of a swine carcass”; other cuts and characteristics must 000_bacon_03be separately qualified (e.g., “smoked pork loin bacon”). For safety, bacon may be treated to preventtrichinosis, caused by Trichinella, a parasitic roundworm which can be destroyed by heating, freezing, drying, or smoking.

Bacon is distinguished from salt pork and ham by differences in the brine (or dry packing). Bacon brine has added curing ingredients, most notably sodium nitrite, and occasionally potassium nitrate (saltpeter); sodium ascorbate or erythorbate are added to accelerate curing and stabilise colour. Flavourings such as brown sugar or maple are used for some products. Sodium polyphosphates, such as sodium triphosphate, may be added to make the produce easier to slice and to reduce spattering when the bacon is pan-fried. Today, a brine for ham, but not bacon, includes a large amount of sugar. Historically, “ham” and “bacon” referred to different cuts of meat that were brined or packed identically, often together in the same barrel.

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Bacon Butty – The King of Comfort Food

Text from Wikipedia

Pickled Watermelon Peel / Syltet Vannmelonskall

A surprising recipe  from “Nye Mesterkokken”
(The New Master Chef) published in 1974
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There is certainly news for most people that the fine peel of watermelons can be used as a substitute for pickled gherkins. This is not difficult to do, and they taste really good, just like old-fashioned pickles.

000_recipe_eng_flagg Recipe in English 000_recipe_nor_flagg Oppskrift på norsk

Recipe posted at:
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Glazier’s Herring / Glassmestersild

A classic Norwegian Christmassy herring recipe
found on grytelokket.com
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This is a herring recipe that has long traditions in Norway. Glazier herring fits perfectly on a slice of rye bread or as part of a larger buffet and for many Norwegians it is an absolute must at Christmas. Oh, and remember, nothing, absolutely nothing tastes better with herring like this than a glass of cold, foaming beer 😉

000_recipe_eng_flagg Recipe in English  000_recipe_nor_flagg Oppskrift på norsk

Recipe posted at:
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