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Deep Breath, Time Out, and Let's Pickle!

Whew! Been a bunch of busy bees here today, readers and writers and researchers and translators and good folk all around. Give yer good selves a wild cheer, round of applause, and all other well deserved kudos.

Now. We must at some point turn ourselves from the body politic to the body human, and fuel for same. Anybody here about to drown in garden produce? Too much of it to use, give away, or even feed to the pigs? Here's a middlin' easy solution to the problem. The list of ingredients looks long but modify it to suit yourself, that's most likely what "Dr. Kitchiner" did in the first place. Gather ye veggies while ye may--


Food to be pickled (see recipe for details)
1 gal. strong vinegar
4 oz. curry powder
4 oz. dry mustard
1/2 pint salad (olive) oil
3 oz. ginger root, bruised
2 oz. tumeric
1/2 lb. shallots, peeled and lightly baked
2 oz. garlic cloves, peeled & baked
1/4 lb. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

The flavoring ingredients of Indian pickles are a compound of curry powder, with a large proportion of mustard and garlic.

The following will be found something like the real mango pickle, especially if the garlic be used plentifully. To each gallon of the strongest vinegar put four ounces of curry powder, same of flour of mustard (some rub these together, with half a pint of salad oil), three of ginger bruised, and two of turmeric, half a pound (when skinned) of eschalots slightly baked in a Dutch oven, two ounces of garlic prepared in like manner, a quarter of a pound of salt, and two drachms of Cayenne pepper.

Put these ingredients into a stone jar; cover it with a bladder wetted with the pickle, and set it on a trivet by the side of the fire during three days, shaking it up three times a day; it will then be ready to receive gherkins, sliced cucumbers, sliced onions, button onions, cauliflowers, celery, broccoli, French beans, nasturtiums, capsicums, and small green melons. The latter must be slit in the middle sufficiently to admit a marrow-spoon, with which take out all the seeds; then parboil the melons in a brine that will bear an egg; dry them, and fill them with mustard-seed, and two cloves of garlic, and bind the melon round with pack-thread.

Large cucumbers may be prepared in like manner.

The other articles are to be separately parboiled (excepting the capsicums) in a brine of salt and water strong enough to bear an egg; taken out and drained, and spread out, and thoroughly dried in the sun, or before a fire, for a couple of days, then put into the pickle.

Any thing may be put into this pickle, except red cabbage and walnuts.

The Cook's Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829


Discussion: This recipe is clearly of British derivation, and the "Indian" in the title means the one in East Asia, not the more local folks. (When you see "Indian" as an ingredient in recipes from this time it most often means corn, as in "Indian meal.")

Gherkins are just little pickling cucumbers, not a special variety. And pickling cucumbers if left on the vine too long turn in to just plain eating cucumbers. Don't go by size, look at the end away from the vine (where the blossom used to be) and check for whiteness. No white: ready to go. Cukes that get out from under their local leaf, so as to be exposed to the sun, turn yellow. Don't ask me how I know this. Don't know if it harms them to pickle or eat because I think they look disgusting and throw them into the woods. Who knows, maybe volunteer cucumber will kill poison ivy--has anybody ever experimented on this?

Oh yes, red cabbage and walnuts can also be pickled, you just have to use a different recipe. Anybody interested, I'll dig it up. Pickling, salting, smoking and canning were the only methods of preserving food for the winter in those days after all. And have you ever tried to smoke a walnut? Tastes terrible and hard to keep lit.

Lambert, you can use this pickle on squash blossoms too. Although if they're still vanishing on you it's faster to just pick them, dunk 'em in a beer-and-flour batter, and fry 'em up like onion rings. Better you should get use out of them than the Mysterious Squash Blossom Thief, which upon reflection would make a terrific band name.

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