When the Indian pickling season arrives, most people focus on finding the best raw mangoes – or any other fruits, vegetables, nuts and meats that they are planning to pickle. The most important ingredient is sometimes forgotten – Mustard Oil.
In traditional Indian pickles, cold-pressed Mustard Oil is the Great Preserver – its natural preservative properties ensure that your pickle remains fresh, tasty and edible for a year… or more, in some cases. But that’s not all. Mustard Oil has powerful antifungal, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that prevent the formation of moulds and other pathogens on the fruits and vegetables being pickled. This is very important from a safety point of view. If you have used good quality cold-pressed Mustard Oil for making your pickles, you don’t have to worry about tummy upsets, gastric infections and other such problems.
Mustard Oil is also a delicious taste agent and is a key factor that affects the way your pickle tastes. It has a distinctive flavour of its own and it accentuates the flavours of the fruits, vegetables and spices used in various recipes. That’s why Mustard Oil is the dominant pickling medium across north and eastern India.
When you are selecting the right Mustard Oil for pickling, make sure that it is Cold-Pressed Mustard Oil (also referred to as Kachi Ghani). Don’t get fooled by descriptions like “Low-Pungency Mustard Oil”, “Double-Filtered Mustard Oil” or “Refined Mustard Oil”. These so-called variants do not offer the full package of benefits. They do not have the amazing attributes that we mentioned earlier. And that is why they are unsuitable for pickling.
So if you are trying to bring alive those wonderful memories of the fascinating pickles that grandma used to create, make it a point to use the same pickling medium she always used – cold-pressed Mustard Oil.