Enjoy the small bites of sour lacto fermented, star gooseberry pickle. Made in a classic Kerala style this arinellika uppilitathu is a treasure trove of flavour.
Whenever we meet our cousins here in Sydney, we find each other a few small treasures that are related to the foods we have eaten as children. This weekend we met up at Bobin head point as my aunt and uncle arrived. As we were exchanging things we had picked up for each other, a small pack of arinellika stole the show. A treasure that they found in a store near them was good enough to keep me excited for the next two days.
What is arinellika?
The shrubby leafy tropical plant of Phyllanthus acidus, produces light greenish fruit, star gooseberry. This acidic fruit is popular in tropical regions. Often they are called Malay gooseberry, octa hexite gooseberry or starberry. The fruits grow in clusters on the tree branches and the ripe ones can be collected just by shaking the tree that brops the gooseberries.
How to pick star gooseberries?
Among the clusters you see on the tree, the bigger ones that have a lighter colour have ripened. These are perfect to be pickled or eaten. There is a central hard seed in each of the berries that needs to be discarded. In younger berries these will be soft so can be eaten. When buying these star gooseberries, ensure that they are blemish-free and not squishy. The fruit is firm and juicy when ripe and not soft to the touch.
What do star gooseberries taste like?
What is an uppilitatu?
Upilittathu is a brine-based pickling method. The salted water is used to slowly lacto-ferment the vegetable or fruit. The fruit is slowly infused with the salt that acts as a preservative. The upilittathu is the easiest way of preserving fruits that are a bit sour. You can easily pickle tender mangoes, pineapple, gooseberries, lime or birdseed chillies this way.
Ingredients to make this star gooseberry pickle
The brined pickle with arinellika is one of the simplest preserves you can make. This slow lactose fermented pickle just needs a few ingredients.
Star gooseberry: Pick the fresh star gooseberry. ensure they are blemish free and not smashed on the ground when you are plucking them as all this improves the shelf life of the pickle.
Salt: usually it is sea salt crystals that are used for pickling. However, you can try rock salt too. Other than subtle changes due to the minerals, there will not be a huge difference in flavours.
Water: boiled cooled drinking water is best suited for making the pickle. Boiling and cooling ( close the lid) ensures that the germs are almost destroyed and provides an friendly environment for the lactobacilli to grow.
Chillies: These are optional. Green or red chillies sliced or slit is added to the pickle to give a hint of spiciness. If you don’t prefer it. Avoid it totally.
Let’s make the uppilitathu
Making the brine: Boil and cool the water first. To the slightly warm water add the salt and stir well till it dissolves. This makes the brine that you need for the pickling.
Prepping the arinellika: Wash and pick the stalks off the arinellika. Dry off the water with a kitchen towel and place the star gooseberries in a sterilized bottle. Slit chillies if using and place them in the jar too.
Pickling: Pour the cooled brine over the gooseberries till it covers all the star gooseberries. Now the gooseberries are ready to be pickled. Shake the bottle for 3 to 4 hours initially and then every day to ensure that the brine is evenly distributed.
Serving the pickle: The pickle will be ready after two days of soaking in the brine. use a clean dry spoon to remove the star gooseberry. enjoy as such or with kanji or a South Indian meal.
Meal prep and storage
The star gooseberry pickle certainly makes our mouths water. I don’t think it is going to last any longer than two days. However, if you get a large variety of arinellika the brined pickle will stay well for 2 to three months. Ensure that you are storing the pickle in a sundried or sterilized bottle and using a clean dry spoon to remove the necessary amount of pickle each time. Do not use your hands to get the pickle out as it will contaminate the pickle.
- glass bottle
- 250 grams star gooseberry
- 1 tbsp Sea salt
- 1 cup drinking water
- 1-2 green chilli slit or sliced
- Wash and pat dry the star gooseberry.
- Boil the water and as it cools add the salt and set it aside to cool completely, dissolving the salt.
- Add the goosberries into the clean glass bottle.
- Add the slit green chillies.
- Pour the brine over it so the berries are covered.
- Cover and leave it to soak for a couple of days shaking the bottle occasionally.
- The pickle is then ready to be used.
What else can you make with the pickled star gooseberries?
If you have plenty of pickled star gooseberries add it to coconut chutney and reduce the salt as you will get a tasty chutney. You can add a tbsp of yogurt to this chutney and make arachukalakki or tambuli too.
Other easy pickles on this blog
We love having Lacto-fermented pickles with our meal. Not only do they improve the flavour, but also aid in gut health.
Hope these age-old pickling techniques come in handy for you. When you get some arinellika, please let us know how you pickle it. Subscribe to this blog and stay in touch as we attempt to bring you some of our favourites. We have recently created an account with Threads, do check it out.
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