Text Susan Jung / Photography Jonathan Wong / Styling Nellie Ming Lee Pickling is a method of preserving food that's used throughout the world. Almost all fruits and vegetables can be pickled, and even many meats and seafood. There are several varieties: quick pickles are meant to be eaten within a few days while others can be stored for months. Pickling can be done with just salt (which takes longer because the sour flavour needs to develop naturally) or by using salt and vinegar. Be sure to use sea salt or kosher salt, without an anti-caking agent or iodine. If you want to store the pickles for a long time, it's important that your hands and implements are clean during the preparation process: I wash all jars, spoons, ladles and tongs (for transferring the ingredients) in hot, soapy water, then rinse them with boiling water. Deli-style pickled cucumbers (pictured) This is a garlicky, slightly spicy pickle; feel free to vary the amounts of spices, chillies and garlic to suit your taste. I buy small (about 4cm in length) cucumbers from shops that sell Indian ingredients. If you can't find them, use slender Japanese cucumbers, and cut them lengthwise in halves or quarters. 300-500 grams small, whole cucumbers Kosher salt or sea salt, as needed 710ml water 5 large garlic cloves 1-2 dried whole chillies (break them into pieces for spicier pickles) 1½ tsp black mustard seeds 1½ tsp dill seeds 1½ tsp coriander seeds ¾ tsp caraway seeds 8 juniper berries, lightly crushed 10-12 whole black peppercorns, lightly crushed 2-3 bay leaves, torn into small pieces Two fresh dill sprigs, rinsed with cold water, then patted dry Rinse the cucumbers thoroughly in running water then drain them. Use a sharp paring knife to trim off the bump on both the stem and flower ends of each cucumber. Put the cucumbers in a bowl and sprinkle them liberally with salt. Use your hands (wear disposable gloves, if you like) to scrub the cucumbers with the salt then rinse them thoroughly. Leave in a colander to drain. Pour the water into a saucepan and add 30 grams of salt. Stir to dissolve then bring to the boil. Add the remaining ingredients (except the cucumbers and dill sprigs), stir once then turn off the heat and leave to cool. Put the cucumbers in a large, sterilised glass jar and add the cooled pickling brine (with all the spices) and dill. There should be plenty of room for the cucumbers to swim around in the brine - if necessary, use two jars. Leave about 6cm between the cucumbers/brine and the top of the jar. Take a flexible plastic bag (the type used in grocery shops for vegetables works well) and add about 300ml of water to it, then squeeze out as much air as possible. Tightly knot the bag, then put it into another bag (in case the first one leaks), squeeze out the air and knot the second bag. Put the bag directly on top of the cucumbers in the brine (the bag helps to keep them submerged). Lay a paper towel over the mouth of the jar and tie it with string or a rubber band; do not put the lid on the jar. Place the jar in a warm (but not hot!), shaded place and leave at room temperature for two days, or until you can see (and smell) the pickles starting to ferment. Occasionally lift the bag out of the jar and bounce it gently on the surface of the brine (so the cucumbers on top get dampened) before putting it back in the jar. After the pickles start to ferment, remove the bag of water. If the jar is too large to fit in the fridge, transfer the cucumbers to sterilised smaller jars and add enough of the pickling liquid and spices to cover them. Cap the jars tightly with the lids then put them in a fridge and leave for a week (or longer) before eating them. Pickled ginger Young ginger - the tender, green-tipped pale pink or pale tan rhizomes also known as spring ginger - is still in season, and this is a good way of preserving it for the rest of the year. 600 grams young ginger 50 grams kosher salt or sea salt About 50 grams granulated sugar 60ml bottled still water 500 grams pure rice vinegar Use a teaspoon to scrape the thin skin from the ginger and trim off any bruised parts. Rinse it well then drain it. Break the ginger hands into smaller pieces, separating it at the lobes. Sprinkle the ginger with salt then put it in a plastic bag and refrigerate for at least eight hours, shaking the bag occasionally. Rinse the ginger with cold running water, then drain it and pat it dry. Put the ginger in a sterilised glass jar that's taller than it is wide (so there's less surface area). Dissolve the sugar in the water, then mix in the rice vinegar and taste - if it's too acidic, add more sugar. Pour this over the ginger so it's completely submerged. Seal the jar and leave for at least a week before eating. Japanese sesame cucumber pickles This pickle can be eaten about 30 minutes after making it, but it's at its best after it's had time to age for a couple of days. Eat it within a week. 200 grams Japanese cucumbers About 10 grams kosher salt or sea salt 30ml sesame oil 10ml pure rice vinegar Toasted sesame seeds, for sprinkling Rinse the cucumbers and dry them with paper towels. Trim the stem and blossom ends from the cucumbers. Cut them in half lengthwise, then on the diagonal into 1.5cm pieces. Put the cucumbers in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Mix well and leave for 30 minutes. Put the cucumbers in a colander and rinse well, then taste a piece; it shouldn't taste salty. Lay the cucumbers on a clean dishcloth and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Mix the pieces with the rice vinegar and sesame oil and leave for at least 30 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds just before serving.