Saturday, March 14, 2009

Naturally fermented home made vegetable pickles

Pickles are one of the most widely used forms of fermented foods. Many ancient cultures developed various pickling methods as a way of preserving vegetables through the winter.

Pickles increase the appetite, aid digestion, and strengthen the intestine by enhancing the beneficial bacteria in the gut.

During the fermentation process, enzymes and bacteria change the sugars in foods into lactic acid. Lactic acid strengthens the flora in the intestines.

Whilst many modern people are familiar only with highly spiced and vinegary cucumber pickles, an assortment of root, round and greeny leafy vegetables may be pickled as well as some sea vegetables, fruits, fish and seafood, and even flowers.

In addition to salt, pickles may be aged in tamari soy sauce, miso, umeboshi vinegar and other substances.

Pickles come in several strengths.

Short pickles can be made in a few hours to a few days or weeks. These light pickles are especially good in hot weather or for those who need to limit their consumption of salt.

Long pickles take from several weeks to several months to make and they can keep for several years. They are good all year round but are especially helpful for those who are weak or lacking in vitality.

If pickles taste too salty they can be soaked in cold water for half an hour before using.

Making pickles at home is great fun as there are so many combinations of ingredients and pickling solutions that you can let your imagination run riot.

When making pickles, use fresh vegetables that are firm, crisp and bright in colour.

Radish pickles

10-12 radishes, finely sliced
¾ cup water
¼ cup red plum (umeboshi) seasoning
½ tsp fine sea salt

1. Wash and sterilize some jam jars
2. Mix the water, red plum seasoning and sea salt until dissolved
3. Place sliced radishes in jar. Pour in the liquid until the radishes are covered.
4. Cover the jar with muslin and leave in a cool dark place for 2-3 days
5. Remove muslin and put on lid of jam jar
6. Store in the fridge for at least a week

Carrot pickles

2 medium carrots, cut into thin slices
1 cup water
¼ cup soy sauce
½ tsp salt
2 thin slices fresh ginger root

1. Place all ingredients in a clean, sterilised glass jar

2. Repeat the same process as for the first recipe

White cabbage pickles

3 cups white cabbage, finely cut
2 cups water
2 tsp fine sea salt

1. Place all the ingredients in a clean, sterilised glass jar. Mix well.
2. Repeat the same process as for the other recipes. Pickle for 10 days.

After pickling the vegetables should still be as firm and crunchy as when raw but with a pleasant sour flavour from the pickling.

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