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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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pickle as a verb, to preserve foods, especially vegetables, fruits, meat, and fish, in a preserving medium with a strong salt or acid content; as a noun, either the product of the process or the liquid or paste which is the preserving medium.

Immersing foods in vinegar or brine, or a mixture of the two, is a long-established way of preserving foods. Highly acidic solutions and strong salt solutions prevent micro-organisms from growing and enzymes from working (see preservation). The acetic acid in vinegar has a disinfectant effect, so that vinegar is a better preservative than other acid liquids of the same strength.