Trail RecipesBy Akira Suzuki
Get Yourself in a Pickle
Bitter gourds, myoga, pecoros and other seasonable vegetables
Grain vinegar or apple vinegar
Black pepper, cloves and other preferred spices
Laurel, rosemary and other preferred herbs
When you’re out camping or hiking, I highly recommend taking time to peek into the local grocery store, because farm-fresh vegetables are sold at a price unthinkable to city-dwellers.
Although they might come in distorted shapes and irregular sizes, you can’t beat the taste. Tomatoes and cucumbers taste just as they should. This, unfortunately, forces you to realize just how dull and tasteless city supermarket vegetables can be.
The problem at these backwoods greengrocers can be the volume in which they sell things. Since it can be difficult to use all the vegetables with which you walk out, I recommend pickling the leftovers.
Although you can buy canned pickled goods in any supermarket, they are quite easy to make on your own. Pickles go well with wine, or you can slice them thin for sandwiches. Thinly slicing them and mixing with mayonnaise for a dip or dressing is another option worth exploring.
The vinegar and sugar in which the pickles are soaked act as preservatives, allowing you to store the final product at room temperature. You can pickle a lot during the months when there are plenty of vegetables from which to choose, saving your feast for winter when veggies are scarce.
Long ago, people couldn’t imagine fresh vegetables available year-round, so a variety of preservative methods were developed out of necessity. Methods for pickling in Europe and America basically use the same “sweet” vinegar used in Japan. You could say that the gari found in sushi shops is simply “ginger pickles.”