Here's the course of events. On Sunday, pickles proliferated. While the preserving pan percolated under the weight of Hot Indian Chutney*, thanks to Good Housekeeping, vintage c. 1960 (simmer for 8 hours!), the biggest saucepan was producing Spiced Plum Chutney in considerably less time (WI Jams, Pickles and Chutneys pub. 2002).
Monday, I knew I was going down with something. Tuesday, I pondered my future. Would I die right now, or in, perhaps, 40 minutes' time? Every joint ached, my temperature sizzled, my lung condition is best left unmentioned, and I could barely lift myself from the bed.
In the midst of misery, a thought surfaced. Surely, I've been ill after pickle-making before? Not this badly, I'll admit, but certainly with the catarrhal cold variety.
Husband has suggested Pickle Fever and, after what I considered somewhat unnecessary hilarity, a rational explanation. Hours of breathing in acidic vinegar fumes might, perhaps, affect the chemistry of mucous membranes, weakening defences and letting a bug thrive.
I'm fairly sure that a less scientific, more New Age-y point of view would be that vinegar - anti-bacterial, cleansing - could make the body detox and fight off a bug that's been lurking within.
Conjecture aside, my question is this. Have you also gone down with something immediately after making pickle? (Not a scientific survey, I know, but it would be fascinating if we found a possible link.) I'd love to hear your experiences, so please leave a comment below.
* The recipe is very similar to the Hot Indian Chutney described in the Winnepeg Tribune in 1938, and includes the overnight maceration with salt and sugar.