Pickles in the UK are nothing like pickles in the US. British pickles usually refer to a sickly sweet concoction of chopped vegetables and/or fruit, usually eaten on a sandwich with cheddar cheese. Their pickled cucumbers are equally sweet and sickly.
|The quintessential British pickle|
When I first moved to the UK I had to go without proper dill pickles until enough Poles migrated over and started opening deli shops. This migration also led to the introduction of sauerkraut, keilbasa sausage and pierogi. And, possibly, to the recent introduction of New York deli pastrami sandwiches at M&S. Complete with sauerkraut and REAL non-sweet dill pickles. I imagine some people are blaming these new sandwiches on the Americanisation of the British diet, but I'm just happy to be able to eat more of my favourite foods.
Actually, I should also acknowledge my gratitude to migrants from the Middle East, because you can also usually find non-sweet Persian pickled cucumbers in Halal shops (though they are apparently produced in Israel, for an interesting twist). I would encourage you to check out the hot pepper variety for a flavour explosion!
|The jar in the middle contains nastertium seeds, which supposedly taste like capers when pickled.|
I don't think the 1:1 proportion works with beets - they require more vinegar, possibly to counteract the effect of all the sugar. Here is a really easy recipe from my mother for pickling raw beets:
Scrub, trim and peel 2 red or golden beets. Slice thinly, and transfer to a jar. Split 1 fresh Thai chili in half. Bring chili, 1 cup rice vinegar, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 fresh bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour hot mixture over beets. Seal jar, and refrigerate. Beets will keep for six months in refrigerator.I left out the sugar and spices and put in a couple of star anise instead. They are amazing!
|Fridge beets and beans (flavoured with white wine and home grown coriander seed)|
So, now that I pretty much have pickling down, my next step should be fermentation, so I can make my very own sauerkraut. Except I fear I'll never manage to grow my own cabbage.