Pickles were once found only bobbing about in jars behind the bar or in the local chippy. We love pickled eggs and the like, but there's a whole new world of pickles out there for the tasting. The last few years has seen chefs and producers pickling all sorts of fruits and vegetables. Here's our top six.
Vadasz Deli sell their pickles at several London markets, and supply many street food stalls and shops. We know them from their stall at the lovely Brockley Market in south London where they just popped up one day and started being brilliant. They specialise in lactic acid fermentation — a traditional method which means the pickles ferment naturally, using similar cultures to those involved in making yoghurt or sourdough bread. Nick Vadasz is of Hungarian Jewish heritage and the business was inspired by his grandmother, a keen preserver. He now has a range of pickles such as sauerkraut, bread and butter pickles (sweet) and our favourite, the hot roots, which are spicy sliced root vegetables, spiked with scotch bonnets.
Vadasz Deli, see website for stockists
Chick n Sours
We love the refreshing pickled watermelon at Chick n Sours, which comes topped with peanuts, mint and coriander. It's the perfect accompaniment to their excellent fried chicken. They also run a changing selection of house pickles with one of the most popular being Malaysian aachar pickles with carrot, onion, mooli, cabbage, cucumber, black sesame and peanuts.
Chick n Sours, 390 Kingsland Road, E8 4AA
Jeremy Lee's team at Quo Vadis are keen picklers, coming up with original and fun ideas for new preserves. They change regularly so look out for them on the menu. In the past we've loved the pickled plums, gooseberries and a bavette steak served with pickled walnuts. We're also suckers for the smoked eel sandwich which comes with a tangle of pretty pink pickled onions.
Quo Vadis, 26-29 Dean Street, W1D 3LL
This family run social enterprise works with unemployed women from Indian and Sri Lankan communities. They run pop ups in various spots around London so make sure to keep your peepers peeled for those (or just look on the website) and they also do a fantastic range of pickles. Their tomato and garlic pickle is fantastic, but they seem to be up for pickling just about anything from figs to aubergines, to papayas. To buy, you can e-mail them, again via their website.
Meatliquor may well have been the first to put deep fried pickles on a London menu. We certainly remember them fondly at their #Meateasy residency in New Cross, and before during their time at The Rye pub. Whatever, they still do the best ones. They're fat, greaseless and hot enough to leave you with third degree tongue burns if you don't give them proper respect. We've never quite mastered the art of waiting...
Meatliquor, 74 Welbeck Street, W1G 0BA
Poke is a Hawaiian dish of black rice, topped with marinated raw fish and a selection of toppings and pickles. Guy and Celia sell their poke from their street food stall, which is exciting because it's so different to much of the stuff out there already (i.e. it isn't meat in a bun). The pickles are an essential part of the dish because they contrast with the natural oils in the fish, and the nutty black rice. Their signature pickle is a pink baby corn, dyed with the natural colouring of beetroot, and they do diddy pink pickled quails eggs for brunch. Cute.