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The incredible flavours of pickles
The word ‘pickles’ might only bring to mind gherkins, so now it’s time to learn about the trend of the month. Crunchy, vegetarian and flavoursome, pickles have more than one string to their bow to surprise you with this summer. Long-forgotten, they are back with a bang and add a real touch of originality to our most simple recipes. Be surprised by this much-loved ingredient of Parisian chefs.
De l’Inde à l’Angleterre : la naissance des pickles
From India to England: the birth of pickles They have been around for a few centuries, and came to us from India. Pioneers in the field, the Indians soon macerated their seasonal fruit and vegetables in vinegar, usually adding some spices to accentuate the taste. When they reached England, pickles took on a new twist to better adapt to local habits. They prefer them less spicy and more varied. Tomatoes, onions and beans are in turn put in jars, offering an ever-wider range of flavours. This is how pickles, from the English verb "to pickle” came to be.
A key element in the preparation of pickles, brine is made up of both vinegar and generously salted water. While vinegar pickles are usually pasteurised during their preparation, those preserved in salt water ferment over time; after a few weeks, "good bacteria" appear, helping to strengthen the immune system.
Les multiples atouts des pickles
The many benefits of pickles Pickles play a key role in our diet and on our shelves thanks to their outstanding preservation properties. In fact, brine or vinegar preserves, in the same way as fruit jams, allow us to eat vegetables off-season; they respect fruit and vegetables without spoiling them. Some specialised brands such as Les 3 Chouettes, prioritise the respect for raw materials. Their pickles are therefore prepared from organic or local vegetables, less than 250 km from Paris. During pasteurisation, vegetables are cooked at different temperatures, determined according to the specific characteristics of each vegetable. “Each vegetable has a different resistance to heat. Therefore, we have opted for gentle pasteurisation so that they preserve their crunchiness,” explains Elodie Germain, Co-Founder of the brand.
A flavoursome alliance
Another important advantage of pickles: its taste. Macerated in vinegar, pickles develop unique aromas on the palate. The real appeal of Les 3 Chouettes lies in their daring yet successful blends. Carrot and ginger, red onion and red wine vinegar, cucumber and dill...« We are constantly seeking the best combination of a vegetable and a herb, a vegetable and a spice. We want to prioritise above all the vegetable so that it dominates and becomes immediately recognisable. Spices are an addition and add some freshness or a slight twist.”
A few combination ideas
Today, many chefs offer them on their menus. On a spread, a sandwich or in a bowl, pickles are becoming the indispensable ingredient to bring flavour, crunch and touches of colour to our dishes.
At home, they are enjoyed as crudites for an aperitif and can also be popped into a salad, a tartare or to accompany cold meat. “The return of pickles coincides with the advent of the aperitif, it is the moment of conviviality par excellence. Today, they are offered more frequently and are replacing the starter, even the meal. So, customers are seeking out bites that are more or less elaborate but always tasty, to accompany their aperitifs.”
What about you? What combination will you try this summer? Find inspiration from 3 suggestions from your chefs at La Grande Épicerie de Paris, and discover it on video!