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everything you need to know to make it perfect

22 mayo, 2021

The escabeche is a cooking technique that applies to a wide variety of foods: meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, vegetables and even fruits. Although this is how it is defined today, pickling was born as a food preservation technique when there were no refrigerators or other ways of refrigeration and the only way to preserve meat and fish was in salt or in an acid medium, such as vinegar or wine, two of the substances used in its production.

Technological and industrial advancements have changed the meaning of pickle. Its current value no longer lies in its preservation power but in its ability to provide an unmatched texture and flavor to food. This ancient Spanish cooking technique has managed to maintain its validity in the kitchen because it has very characteristic and appreciated aromatic and taste qualities.

Preservation or cooking technique: current definition of pickle

The Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) of the Language collects four meanings for the term pickled (from the ar. Hisp. Assukkabá ár, and this from ar. Sikbāǧ; cf. Persian sekbā.). The first two, which are the ones that interest us, read as follows:

    1. m. Sauce or marinade that is made with fried oil, wine or vinegar, bay leaves and other ingredients, to preserve and make fish and other foods tasty.
    1. m. Spiced and pickled food.

According to the definition of the RAE the basic elements of the marinade are: “fried oil, wine or vinegar, bay leaves and other ingredients”.

The pickle is based on the creation of a very acidic medium (high pH) composed of vinegar or acetic acid, vegetables, oil, spices and other seasonings. If we apply the first definition of the RAE, this acid medium is the escabeche (sauce or marinade) in which it is cooked, seasoned and preserved the food, which brings us to the second meaning.

Mussels in cider vinegar pickle Mussels in cider vinegar pickle

What types of marinade are there?

There are several types of marinade depending on its hot or cold preparation (that is, cooked), something that determines the intensity of flavor and, above all, the degree of conservation.

  • Pickles of long shelf life. The marinade and the main ingredient are cooked separately and mixed cold. To be consumed in 15 days.
  • Pickles of medium conservation. The marinade and the main ingredient are cooked separately and mixed while still warm. To be consumed in eight days.
  • Pickles of short conservation. The marinade and the main ingredient are cooked together. To consume in one or two days. Within this there are three subtypes: Spanish (main ingredient, vinegar, olive oil and condiments), French (Spanish + julienned vegetables) and half pickled (Spanish + abundant julienne onion).

Can the classic pickled formula be varied?

The most popular pickle is short-lived, that is, one in which the main ingredient and the pickle per se they are cooked together. The classic marinade formula It is based on the use of two parts of oil, one of vinegar and one of white wine. To these these elements are added salt, bay leaf, peppercorns and garlic and we have a manual pickle.

Classic Liquids Pickle Classic marinade formula: two parts oil, one part vinegar and one part white wine.

However, there are many, many, pickled recipes because, as the wise Spanish proverb says, every master has his own trick (How wise the Spanish proverb is) and that each one adjusts the proportions of the basic elements of the pickle, adds new elements, removes others and makes the changes that he deems appropriate as appropriate or like.

The most popular marinade is short-lived, that is, one in which the main ingredient and the marinade “per se” are cooked together.

The oil it can be used in the quantity, quality and variety that is preferred. Despite what the classic formula indicates, there are pickle recipes in which a small amount of oil is used to brown the main element (chicken, rabbit, partridge, etc.) and nothing else is added. With this, lighter pickles are obtained and the oil consumption is considerably reduced.

The same goes for the vinegar, which can be white wine, sherry, apple, flavored, etc. It can also be partially replaced by wine, water, broth or even the juice of a citrus fruit. This would have been unthinkable when pickling was used as a preservation method, but today it is very common. The limited use of vinegar results in softer pickles, perfect for those who are not friends with this ingredient.

There are different types of Pepper, but the most common in the preparation of pickles is black. This does not mean that white, green, pink pepper, any of its other varieties or a mixture of several can not be used. It is generally added in its grain form, but some people prefer to use it ground to avoid running the risk of ending up with one between their teeth. It is advisable to be cautious with the quantity, as it is a spice with a powerful flavor that could ruin the final result.

Other spices that can be used in the preparation of pickles are cloves, paprika (mandatory in pickled mussels), cinnamon, nutmeg, chili, etc. The limit is marked by the imagination of each one and his taste, of course.

Classic Pickle Basic elements of the classic marinade: salt, garlic, black pepper and bay leaf.

The same happens with garlic, bay leaf and salt. All of them essential seasonings in the basic formula of the marinade that should be measured with caution. Garlic (peeled) can be added whole, sliced, or minced. Bay leaves are powerful, so be careful with how much to use. And the salt … this is a generalized song for any dish that we prepare and not exclusive to pickles.

Although they are not part of the list of classic elements in the preparation of pickles, the herbs they serve to flavor and flavor. They manage to give a touch of distinction if they are used in moderation, since what is sought is that their presence is guessed without diminishing the main elements. Rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, dill, parsley, among others, whether fresh or dried.

What foods can be pickled and what is the most suitable formula for each one?

The food that are most used in pickles they are fish, vegetables and meats, but you can also pickle fruits. Chicken, hen, turkey, partridge, quail, pork, bonito, tuna, salmon, sardine, melva, mackerel, mussel, squid, mushroom, asparagus, eggplant, potato and strawberry are some of the foods that we have pickled and / or seen by Internet.

Unfortunately or fortunately there is no universal pickle that works wonders with all of them. Each food has its own organileptic characteristics that determine the proportions of the basic elements of the marinade. It is best to try and adapt the recipes to taste, however this guide that we borrowed from The Winter Guest seems to us a very successful starting point.

Proportion of the pickle according to the food to pickle

FOOD (%)


OIL (%)

WINE (%)






















Chopped chicken





Chicken breast

2. 3


2. 3

2. 3






Pickled with and without oil: that is the question

In addition to the types of marinade according to their degree of preservation and the number of recipes resulting from varying the elements that make up the marinade, there is another way to differentiate the marinades depending on whether or not they carry oil. We explain it in the way we know best, with your recipes.

Pickled Chicken 1 Ingredients for the chicken pickle from The Winter Guest

Oil-free chicken pickle recipe

  • Basic ingredients: 1 onion cut into julienne, 2 grated carrots, 2 peeled garlic cloves, 300 ml of white wine, 300 ml of white wine vinegar, 300 ml of poultry stock, 3 bay leaves, 10 grains of black pepper, 1, 5 kg of chopped chicken, wheat flour, salt, ground black pepper and extra virgin olive oil.

  • Elaboration: Heat a drizzle of oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion, carrot and garlic. We add a little salt to make poaching faster. When the vegetables begin to be tender, add the white wine, the white wine vinegar and the poultry broth along with the bay leaves and black pepper. While the boil starts, prepare the chicken. Season with salt and pepper and flour, fry in a frying pan with plenty of hot oil. You just have to brown, not cook completely. Once the chicken pieces are browned, drain them and go to the saucepan with the marinade, ensuring that it is well submerged in the liquid. Cover and cook over low heat for 40 minutes.

Recipe for chicken pickle with oil

  • Basic ingredients: 1.5 kg of chopped chicken, salt, ground black pepper, 3 bay leaves, 2 cloves of garlic, 10 grains of black pepper, 1 onion cut into julienne strips, 2 grated carrots, 200 ml of white wine, 200 ml of vinegar of white wine and 600 ml of olive oil.

  • Elaboration: We place the chicken in the base of a casserole and season. Add the bay leaves, garlic cloves and black peppercorns. We cover with the onion and carrot and season the vegetables. We water with the white wine, the white wine vinegar and the olive oil. We mix, cover the casserole and bring to the fire. As soon as it starts to boil, lower the intensity and cook for 45 minutes.

Pickled Chicken 6 Pickled chicken, with oil, from The Winter Guest

The difference in the amount of oil is considerable, so everyone chooses the recipe that most appeals to them. The marinade is drained at the moment of serving, always rested and better 24 or 48 hours later, and the leftover liquid and vegetables can be crushed and used to dress salads or as a sauce for other preparations. Nothing is thrown away here.

General guidelines in the preparation of pickles

To complete all of the above, we summarize a series of advice and guidelines of general application in the preparation, conservation and consumption of pickles. We want to leave everything well tied and that you can prepare some finger-licking pickles from …