Saturday, May 7, 2011

make your own pickle!

as we eat healthier, we find ourselves doing things our ancestors have been doing all this while.

making bread the traditional way, using natural soap, omitting processed foad, eating more organic vegetables, getting more exercise... all in all, what our ancestors have always done!

and there is something else we should do. back in the 1930s, dr weston price did a tour around the world to study the health of natives around the world. as he is a dentist, he is interested in their food and also their dental health. as we know today, our dental health also correlates directly with our physical health. [you could extend this to the health of our gut and intestines.]

dr price is surprised to find that people eat all kinds of foods and still live healthily. his studies pf the eskimos for example, show that they eat lots of fish and fats and hardly grains/vegetables but do not suffer high rates of heart disease. you can find out more from the weston price foundation.

he also found out that many traditional societies eat a lot of fermented food. be it fermented meats or fermented vegetables. folks those days ferment food so that they last longer.

today we know that due to the process of fermentation, the food is now easier to digest, more nutritious (more b vitamins) and is packed with lots of bacteria beneficial - probiotics, to our gut, like lactobacillus.

so how do we "eat" more of probiotics? eat raw fermented vegetables! like pickles!

a great resource is this guy sandor katz who runs a website called... wild fermentation.

we gave it a try. it's so easy!

bought 2 medium sized organic cucumbers. (go organic. don't be cheap.)
cut into slices, lengthwise. you could halve, then quarter them lengthwise as well.
put in a tablespoon of rock or sea salt into a glass. fill it up with water. stir well.

this is your brine solution. how much salt to use it's up to you. i started off this. it's quite salty but no worries!

use a large glass jar, put in 2 cloves of crushed garlic (skin removed), some dried oregano, thyme, the sliced cucumber and pour in your brine.

make sure the brine covers the cucumber completely. if you do not have enough brine, make more and top up.

that's it! no heating, no vinegar etc. that's it! it's so simple!

i closed the cap loosely and kept the jar in a cool place and monitored it for days. every one or 2 days, i'll taste the brine solution. day by day, it gets less salty. and on the 7th day, it's sweet and sour! once it's sour to your desire, keep it in the fridge to halt the fermentation.

what happens is that due to the brine solution, water from the cucumber seeps out. thus the cucumber starts to shrink in size. look at the picture above, the cucumbers are now floating and there's lots of brine solution underneath. on day 1, the brine solution just about covers all the cucumbers nicely.

as the cucumbers shrink, it gets crunchier! the salt inhibits growth of bad bacterias and allows lactobacillus, which is salt tolerant, to grow. thus the cucumber starts to ferment. and the acids is the byproduct of the fermentation.

so day by day, more and more acid is released. so taste the brine and cucumber to see how sour you want it to be. with the addition of garlic and herbs, you get more flavours.

now commercial pickles use acid to speed up the process, colouring (so that the pickles look "aged")  and god knows what else.

what for? why buy when you could make your own? a commercial pickel of less than half of what i did sells for rm20 and i spent less than rm3 to make.

and it's so freaking simple!

you bet we'll be making more ferments later