What is the role of salt, vinegar and oil in pickles?

by Sanjeev Kapoor

There are three basic types of pickles: those preserved in vinegar, those preserved in salt and those preserved in oil. Items pickled in vinegar are not fermented but a minimal amount of salt is usually added for flavour. These are known as vinegar pickles, fresh pickles or quick pickles. Salt actually plays a vital part in both the fresh and fermented pickling processes as it aids in extracting the excess water from fruits and vegetables as well as unlocking flavourful juices, concentrating their flavours and ultimately giving them the firm texture. The reverse is true for fermented pickles. Fermented pickles are always produced with salt. The salt, aids in controlling the fermentation process. In this process, a touch of vinegar can be added for flavour and also to prevent the growth of undesirable microorganisms.

Oil is a popular medium used for preserving pickles in our country as it simply seals off the air from the item that is being pickled. Although most oils do not add much to the flavour of pickles, this situation can be remedied by the use of spices and chillies. The oil also helps the seasonings adhere better to the fruits and vegetables. As an added benefit, these flavour-infused oils can be used for cooking. 

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.