Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Hot Pot Pickle with Cucumbers

Hot Pot Pickles with Cucumbers

Hot Pot Pickle – Mrs. Fanny Morris

16 quarts of good vinegar, 1lb. salt, ¼ lb. race ginger, ½ lb. shallots, 1 oz. of mace, 2 oz. of white pepper. 2 oz. of mustard seed, two tablespoons of red pepper, 1 oz. long pepper. boil them in the vinegar, when it is cold, pour them on your fruits or vegetables—having had them well wiped.—

Recipe Provenance
This recipe comes from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations (including this one!).

About the Recipe
This recipe is one that had me scratching my head in confusion. There are absolutely no recipes for a Hot Pot Pickle anywhere in the 18th and 19th century British and American cookery books I have consulted. 

This led me to look for possible reasons why this was given such a name. Here is what I found:

  • The recipe itself includes a lot of hot and spicy ingredients, including ginger, white pepper, red pepper,  and long pepper (Piper longum).  This could very easily and simply explain the term hot pot.
  • The term hot pot could be a variation of the term hotch potch (or hodge podge) which comes from the French hochepot or the Dutch hutspot. Hochepot and hutspot both refer to stews made with a variety of meats. In English, hotch potch referred to a stew made of a mixture of meats and vegetables. 
    • For example, this recipe for a Hodge Podge comes from A Book of Cookrye (London, 1591):
      • To make a Hodgepodge: Boyle a neck of Mutton or a fat rump of Beef, and when it is well boyled, take the best of the broth and put it into a pipkin and put a good many onyons to it, two handfull of marigold flowers, and a handful of percely fine picked and groce shredde and not too small, and so boyle them in the broth and thicke it with strained bread, putting therin groce beaten pepper, and a spoonfull of Vinagre, and let it boyle somwhat thick and so lay it upon your meat.

Conclusion: Because the Hot Pot Pickle recipe contains hot spices and because it was meant to be used on a hotch potch" of fruit and/or vegetables, it was duly named Hot Pot.

About Long Pepper (Piper longum):

Long pepper is actually a flowering vine in the Piperaceae family. The fruit of this plant contains alkaloid piperine which is the same substance found in piper nigrum (the plant that gives us black pepper, white pepper, green pepper, and red pepper). This fruit is dried and ground into a spice powder. Its taste is similar to black pepper, but actually is a bit hotter in spiciness.

Long pepper is native to India but is very popular in Chinese cuisine.  The first reference to long pepper comes from the ancient Indian medicinal textbooks of Ayurveda, where its medicinal and dietary uses are described in detail. It was also used very widely in ancient Rome and reached Greece in the sixth or fifth century BCE. Long pepper was very widely used in Medieval Europe and was even very popular well in the the 18th and even the 19th century in Britain and American cuisine. It was eventually replaced by the American chili pepper in the 19th century when spice was needed in a recipe.

While you cannot find long pepper in most American supermarkets, even specialty ones, you can order it online here.

Hot Pot Pickle: Modern Recipe Adaptation

  • 6 Pounds Cucumbers, Chopped
  • 2 Quarts White Wine Vinegar
  • 8 Cups Water
  • 1/4 Cup Salt
  • 1/4 Cup Grated Fresh Ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon Mustard Seeds
  • 1/8-1/4 Teaspoon Ground Red Pepper
  • 1/4 Ounce Long Pepper, Roughly Chopped

1.  In a medium or large saucepan, mix together the vinegar, water, and spices. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

2.  Wash the cucumbers and slice them in chunky round pieces and place them in a large bowl.

  3.  Pour the cooled vinegar pickle liquid into the bowl with the cucumbers. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24-48 hours before eating the cucumbers.

4.  Alternatively, if you plan to can the pickles, follow these directions:

    • Make the vinegar pickle as directed above, but there is no need to cool this liquid.
    • Place the cut cucumbers in hot, sterilized jars. 
    • Pour the hot pickle liquid over the cucumbers.
    • Seal the jars and process according to directions for your jar size.

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