Pickles are not just cucumbers but the whole range of products that may be fermented or not. They are made from fruits and vegetables or their combinations. Pickled foods are fermented or packed in vinegar to aid preservation. The majority of commercially made fermented cucumbers contain vinegar anyhow and are pasteurized to extend the shelf life of the products.
The highest quality fermented cucumbers have always been made without any vinegar and this is why they display such a superior taste. After fermentation they must be kept in a refrigerator or at low temperatures, which is a small price to pay for such a great product.
Generally speaking pickled foods are made with vinegar in varying proportions and are canned in glass jars using the boiling water processing. Pickled foods are classified into the following groups:
- Fermented Pickles - usually cucumbers, but other vegetables may be employed.
- Quick Pack or Fresh Pack Pickles - cucumbers and other vegetables. Quick pickles are not fermented.
- Relish - fruits, vegetables or their combinations. Sweet relishes contain more sugar.
- Fruit Pickles - usually whole fruits like peaches, pears, watermelons, figs and other fruits.
- Chutney - fruit and vegetables or their combinations. Chutneys are usually strongly spiced.
- Sauce - usually vegetables, they can be mild or hot. Very popular sauces can be pickled such as Tomato Ketchup Sauce, Chili Sauce, Red Pepper Sauce, Taco Sauce and others.
Sweet pickles are prepared in much the same manner as other pickles, except that vinegar is sweetened and more spices are added. Sometimes portions of vinegar are drained and sweet spicy liquid is added a little at a time until the desired sweetness is obtained.
In most cases pickled products are either canned in jars or packed in jars with vinegar.The exception to the rule are low salt fermented cucumbers, which are made without vinegar and must be refrigerated or kept at low temperatures. What separates them from all other pickles is their superior taste.
Pickled cucumbers don't require much introduction, glass jars filled with different cucumber types stand on shelves in each supermarket. Billions of hamburgers are sold every year by fast food franchises and they contain a slice of a pickle inside. Canned pickles are subsequently pasteurized which eliminates oxygen by creating a vacuum inside the jar. This prevents molds and yeasts from growing. It also destroys tissue softening enzymes which create soft pickles.