Till a few decades ago, grandmothers/mothers made pickles using seasonal fruits and vegetables at home by purchasing all ingredients locally. That is why in India we have such a variation in the way pickles are made of the same fruit/vegetable across India.
If we just take Mango pickle in oil, you will find the recipe of making this pickle is different in every state and they taste slightly different too. That is because India has many agro-climatic conditions, every region has a different variety of mango that is used to make pickle and the spices and oil differ too depending on which region you are in.
Pesticides and fertilizers were not in use and food adulteration was unknown (except the milk man adding water to the milk). They got organically grown fruits and vegetables, spices were un-adulterated and the oil was pure, shakkar was the preferred sweetener and vinegar was still being made from fermenting fruits in the village itself.
It was these pure ingredients, which gave grandmother’s pickles the taste that you still crave for.
The pickles were prepared and put out in the sun. This was done to soften the fruits and vegetables and mature the pickles but another were useful and healthy reaction was taking place in the martban called lacto-fermentation
Traditional ways of making pickles when allowed to ferment under the sun favoured the growth of good bacteria called probiotic’s (Lacto bacillus). Store bought pickles normally lack the natural enzymes. These probiotics help prevent indigestion and boost immunity, lower inflammation levels in the body (The Brain Journal 2018).
People can get probiotic supplements from fermented food like pickles (Understand more here )
In this 2 stage process that occurs when pickles are put in the sun in the 1st stage it kills all the bad Bacteria’s which cannot tolerate salt but in the 2nd stage it helps in the growth and survival of the good bacteria’s that can tolerate salt. These organisms begin converting lactose and other sugars present in the food into lactic acid that safely preserves fruits and vegetables and gives lacto fermented food their distinctive tangy flavor.
Unfortunately, in the store bought pickles which are made without the process of putting the pickles in the sun this reaction does not occur and to increase the shelf life of the product the additives and preservatives that are used not only kill the bad bacteria’s but also the good ones.
So either start making pickles at home or find someone who does to keep your intestines healthy and your tongue satiated