Pickles and pickled products consist of a variety of fruits and vegetables that have been conserved through a mixture of acidic solution, salt, and spices. There are six basic types of ingredients used in the process: the main food that will be pickled, acids or brine, colorants, flavorings, preservatives, and stabilizers which consist of the liquid in which the pickled product is sold. In addition, the pickling process is based on two main components: lactic acid fermentation and the possibility of salting the vegetables, which would result in different end products, tastes, and textures. Moreover, hygiene practices are crucial in the pickling process, as the fermentation process does not require the heating of vegetables and fruits.
The lactic acid bacteria brew sugar during the fermentation process into lactic acid, thus avoiding the formation of toxic bacteria and fungus in the pickling process. Additionally, salt is a key component in the process as it affects the level and form of fermentation, and therefore it is recommended that the bacteria grow in a low concentration of salt. In this context, 2% to 5% of salt will yield pickles with high levels of acidity, and higher levels of salt (up to 16%) will result in salt-stock pickles, in other words, pickles in high salt concentration. Sugar is among the inputs that are sometimes added to sweeten the pickles or to increase the degree of fermentation. Moreover, the temperature and the level of pH should be monitored in order to avoid the development of unwanted bacteria.
Furthermore, pickles are an essential part of the Lebanese cuisine, as well as cultural traditions and an important side-dish in restaurants as well as in every Lebanese house. They constitute a major part of the Lebanese “mouneh”, which is a bundle of traditional Lebanese food preparations that is done by villagers to preserve their own local food and crops, mainly at the beginning of the autumn season.
The most known types of pickles in Lebanon are Mekti, cucumber, gherkins, jalapeno, wild thyme, eggplants, beetroot, almond, turnips, onions, carrots, cauliflower, olives, mixed vegetables, among others. This report uses the combined nomenclature code 2001 ‘Vegetables, fruit, nuts, and other edible parts of plants, prepared or preserved by vinegar or acetic acid’.