Pickling is one of the traditional ways of preserving food. Pickling not only helps preserve foods and their nutrients but eating pickles also increases appetite, aids digestion and strengthens the intestines. Pickles contain large amounts of lactobacilli bacteria, which are important to maintain intestinal health and aid with the digestion of grains and vegetables. The lactobacilli survive the acidic digestive juices of the stomach and travel through the small intestine where they aid pancreatic enzymes in the transformation of dextrine (a carbohydrate) into simple sugars, ready for the body to use. In the large intestine they help synthesize B and K vitamins and they inhibit the growth of unwelcome bacteria. The lactic acid the lactobacilli produce also helps our body absorb minerals, such as iron, calcium, and phosphorus. Pickles are also high in fiber, which is important for proper intestinal cleansing and functioning.
Traditional cultures have developed their own ways of pickling and preserving and the different methods vary using, salt, vinegar, bran, miso, soy sauce and many more. One of the oldest and safest methods of food preservation is called “lactic acid fermentation”. With this method foods are preserved because the lactic acid forming bacteria multiply faster than other bacteria which would spoil the product do. The spoiling bacteria can’t tolerate the high acidity the lactic acid bacteria create or the high salt concentration.
Pickling is easy, you will need:
- Preferably organic vegetables that are as fresh and crisp as possible. Vegetables that are good for pickling include carrots, onions, cauliflower, radishes and cucumbers;
- Flavours such as mustard seeds, dill, bay leaves and juniper berries
- 30g of salt dissolved in 1 liter of hot water
Cut the vegetables into chunks or slices. When putting a mix of vegetables into the same jar those with a similar density (for example carrots, onions and daikon) should be cut to the same size and those that are less or more dense should be large or smaller. Pack the vegetables tightly into a jar and press down so that there is almost no space left in-between the vegetables. If you are packing different sorts of vegetables into the same jar then place the less dense vegetables (eg cauliflower and cucumber) in the bottom and the more dense at the top. Then pour the brine over the vegetables all the way to the top of the jar so that there is no space between the water and the rim of the jar. Make sure the vegetables don’t float around. Screw the lid on tightly and leave the jar to stand in a warm room (18-25 degrees) for about 3 – 5 days. After that store the jar in the fridge. After 7 days you can try the pickles to see if they are ready to eat. They are ready when the vegetables are soft but still have some bite and don't taste raw anymore. Be careful when opening the jar as the brine can fizz out.