Pickling With Petrina Loh

Everything you need to know about preserving food with acid and bacteria.

2017-04-12 07:29:40 2017-10-10 11:43:35
Pickling With Petrina Loh 1
The pickling program at Morsels is, to say the least, comprehensive. Jars of bubbling, still fermenting or pickling produce line the wooden countertop in front of the open kitchen where chef-owner Petrina Loh and her crew works. Kimchi, pickled watermelon rind and fermented pineapple all make an appearance on the menu, and are all homemade. We got Loh to reveal her secrets with three different types of pickles, all of which are easily adaptable to your own tastes — soon you’ll be blowing your money on more mason jars than you can shake a stick at.

Here are a few tips:

  • Always sterilise the pickling jar by washing with soapy hot water and drying thoroughly to stop the bad bacteria from growing.
  • Use unchlorinated or distilled water because chlorine inhibits good bacteria from growing.
  • Add  grape leaves into the jar as they contain tannins and enzymes which keeps things crunchy. You can also add a small amount of tea leaves which contains tannins.
  • Cover the surface of the liquid with clingfilm to prevent any contact with air so that mold doesn’t grow.
  • It is necessary to “burp” the pickles jar daily to release accumulated gases. This especially true for lacto-ferment pickles like sauerkraut and kimchi, as the process gives out more gas. Otherwise, you can use an air-lock lid which regulates the air in the container.

3 pickles to make:

So named for the popular “Fanning’s Bread and Butter Pickles”, where its makers allegedly bartered these types of pickles for necessities like bread and butter.

3 Japanese cucumbers
1 small Bombay onion, peeled and uncut
1 long red chilli
1.5 cup apple cider vinegar
1.5 cup white sugar
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp sweet paprika
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander seeds
3 bay leaves
½ tsp black mustard seeds
½ tsp togarashi spice mix

*General rule of thumb- the ratio of vinegar to sugar is 1:1

-Add sugar and vinegar into a pot, followed by turmeric, togarashi, paprika, salt and bay leaves before bringing the mix in a boil. Turn down heat to low.
-Toast spices for approximately two minutes to release oils. Then add them into pickling liquid.
-Cut cucumbers into rounds, slice bombay onions, and julienne the red chili.
-Add the vegetables into the hot pickling liquid, and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes.
-Sterilise a jar with soapy hot water, then dry thoroughly.
-Place the pickles and its liquid into jar. Let the contents of the jar cool down, before covering it securely.
– Keep for 1 – 3 days in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight. It is mandatory to “burp” the pickles jar daily to release accumulated gases. After a few days, taste if it’s ready to your liking.

Without sugar, the tartness of the vinegar really shouts in this one, although bell peppers are already naturally sweet, so they’ll turn out quite balanced.

1.5 cup Mizkan rice vinegar
1.5 cup filtered or distilled water (unchlorinated)
½ tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp Szechuan peppercorns
2 star anise
3 cloves garlic
2 red bell peppers

-Combine rice vinegar and filtered water into a pot before bringing them to a boil. Then lower heat.
-Toast spices for two minutes.
-Smash garlic and remove the skin. Slice red peppers, remove the seeds then julienne.
-Add spices to the pot to steep for about 15 minutes.
-Pour peppers into one-quart canning jar, then add hot pickling liquid and let cool. Cover securely.
-Keep for 3-5 days in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight. “Burp” the pickles jar daily to release accumulated gases. After a few days, taste if it’s ready to your liking.

Because there’s no vinegar in this recipe, you’re actually relying on the acid produced by the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria to create an environment that preserves the produce. Be sure to use filtered or distilled water as chlorine will inhibit the growth of the necessary bacteria.In an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment, these bacteria convert sugars into lactic acid, which inhibits harmful bacteria and acts as a preservative.

2 tsp salt (Diamond brand)
500ml filtered or distilled water (unchlorinated)
10 baby red radishes
10 breakfast radishes
2 watermelon radishes
2 cloves garlic
½ tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 sprigs dill
3 bay leaves

-Add salt and water into a pot to form a brine. Heat to dissolve the salt, then ‘ice down’ to room temperature.
-Fill up the canning jar with vegetables.
-Toast spices for two minutes; smash garlic and remove the skin.
-Add bay leaves, toasted spices and garlic to jar.
-Fill up with brine and use air-lock cover if available. Otherwise, cover securely and “burp” daily.

Before writing about food, Weets wrote about music, and is still waiting patiently for the day he spontaneously develops synaesthesia so he can reconcile the two.