Pickling began about 4000 years back; it was actually a process of preserving food that was out of season, or for long journeys, but nowadays it is used with the food as a flavor enhancer. Pickling is found across all cultures, but it originated in India where it is known as "achar". The edible products made by pickling are called pickles (vegetables, fruits, and sometimes fish, eggs or meat). The most commonly used pickles are made using cucumber and onions, others include: cherry peppers, lemons, carrots etc. The interesting flavors in pickles are the result of fermentation processes.

Pickling Process.Pickling is basically necessary to inhibit the growth of microorganisms, such as bacteria that would spoil the food. This is done by increasing the acidity of the food, so that harmful bacteria cannot grow.

The most important job in the pickling process is to select the best quality of vegetables or fruits. They should be washed and cut into small, round slices or cylindrical pieces. The jar used to store these should be thoroughly sanitized. The next step is heating the vinegar and the pickle mix in a pan, until the mixture turns cloudy. Now, add the mixture and the vegetables or fruit in the sanitized jar and close the lid airtight. Leave the pickles in the mixture for 2 to 3 weeks to acquire the best flavor.

Pickling Varieties There are different techniques used for pickling, including acid-based pickling, dry salted pickling, brine based pickling, oily pickling, pickling in sugar and fermented pickling. All these techniques overlap each other, as they consist of the same basic steps.

Pickling and Health.There is a considerable controversy over whether pickles are good for health or cause harm due to the high level of salts present in them. Some believe that Pickles may improve the nutritional value of food by introducing B vitamins produced by bacteria, and that pickles are a valuable source of vitamins during the scarce winter months. It helps promote digestive health and lowers the cholesterol level. It is also believed that some types of pickles are used as a preventative agent for diabetes, cancer and even SARS.

Others believe that the high salts could be harmful leading to cardiovascular disease. A research conducted by the British Journal of Cancer in 2009 showed that pickles increase the chances of esophageal cancer. The World Health Organization has also listed pickles as carcinogenic (cancer causing).
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