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Chinese pickles facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

Chinese pickles or Chinese preserved vegetables consist of various vegetables or fruits that have been fermented by pickling with salt and brine (simplified Chinese: 咸菜; traditional Chinese: 鹹菜; pinyin: Xiáncài), or marinated in mixtures based on soy sauce or savory bean pastes (simplified Chinese: 酱菜; traditional Chinese: 醬菜; pinyin: jiàngcài). The former is usually done using high-fiber vegetables and fruits, such as Chinese cabbage, carrot, apple and pineapple, while the latter marinated group is made using a wide variety of vegetables, ranging from mustards and cucumbers to winter melon and radishes. As of now, there are more than 130 kinds of pickles.


Chinese pickles have a long history that dates back to 1100 B.C.E., during the Zhou dynasty. The word “pickle”, “tsu ('zi' in Pinyin)” in Chinese, means “salt and incubate”. The pickled vegetables and fruit we refer to today date in practice back to the sixth century B.C.E. Ancient people pickled mainly to preserve their vegetables and fruit because pickling preserves food far past the natural date of expiration. Foods would often be pickled during the harvest season for consumption during later parts of the year.


Chinese pickles all need to balance the flavors of sweet, sour, pungent, salt, bitter and savory. There are also spicy pickles with floral notes, such as the Szechuan pepper. However, most Chinese pickles still aim for a balance between the tastes of vinegar, salt, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, hot chili, sugar, and the vegetable or fruit itself. Most pickles need to wait for a few months for the vegetables and fruit to ferment, but there are also "quick pickles" which can be eaten a few hours or a few days after preparation. Cucumber pickles, for example, may be eaten after they have been pickled in a jar for three hours.


Chinese pickle can be eaten directly from the jar as an appetizer, or used as an ingredient for cooking a larger dish. Before the meal, it is served with wine, beer, sodas, or tea to stimulate people's appetite. People eat the small dishes of Chinese pickles and some snacks to drink and chat. Chinese people can also eat pickles as a dish with steamed rice when they do not have many dishes. Chinese pickles are used as ingredients to cook the food as flavor base. Pickling ginger and pickling pepper are most frequently used ingredients to make Sichuan food. It can also help to flavor and enhance the vegetable, meat, poultry, and seafood. For example, Chinese cook duck soup with pickling radish to make the soup more delicious.


Chinese Pickles
Glass Chinese pickle jar commonly used to pickle vegetables

Vegetables and plums are salted and allowed to ferment with the help of lactic acid bacteria. Depending on the desired product, the vegetable may also be fermented with Chinese wine and spices. Some types of these preserved vegetables are produced through being repeatedly dried after the fermentation.


Vegetables are usually marinated in a soy sauce mixture with sugar, vinegar, salt, and additional spices. The vegetable are lightly boiled in the soy mixture before being left to cool and absorb the marinade:

See also

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Chinese pickles Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.