This original edition of this book started life in 1988 as an accompaniment to the six-part "BBC2 TV" series "The Perfect Pickle Programme", which has subsequently been seen worldwide in countries as far apart as Slovenia and Japan. It went on to appear in three editions. What has happened since then has been little short of a revolution.
Delicatessen and farm shop shelves are crammed with pickles, as well as salsas, vinegars, pastes and chutneys; these spiced-up specialties are all the rage and have become the in-vogue accompaniments of the moment. It's easy to understand their attraction: they are assertive and potent, but can also be subtle; sometimes they assault the palate, sometimes they tease with their piquancy. Cooks at home know that they can add a buzz to quite ordinary food. Fresh produce has always been at the heart of good pickling, and home-grown is best of all.
Increasing numbers of allotment holders are subscribing to the notion of 'plant it, pick it and pickle it', precisely because it makes economic as well as culinary sense. Farmers' markets, which are spreading throughout the country at an astonishing rate (there are now over 500), are also a fruitful and profitable prospect for small-scale pickle and chutney makers, who are able to sell their wares without having to negotiate needless 'food miles'.