Pickling and Fermenting
This week at the MFP trainees covered pickling and fermenting foods, including making firecracker pickles with purple haze carrots (see photo), yogurt, sauerkraut, and vinegar. We can be an edgy bunch.
The whole topic of fermented foods is steeped* in history and culture (literally and socially). You’ve likely heard much about the nutritional benefits of fermented foods, such as being good sources of vitamin C and Bs, having a detoxifying effect on the liver, or the pro-biotic effect of live cultures aiding digestion. But stepping away from the counter-culture* point-of-view, generally everyone I know loves a good pickle.
Fermentation of food is a huge topic, but the basically the process is taking fresh produce, adding an agent (e.g., vinegar, salt, or live culture) that ends up transforming the taste, appearance, texture, and nutrition of the produce. So heating up lactobacillis culture with milk and keeping it in a warm place for a few hours will make yogurt. Or adding 5% acid vinegar to a flavored brine for jarring cucumbers will make pickles.
The point is none of it is hard to do but it is time intensive. Sometimes in the preparation but mostly in the process. Making vinegar can take more than 2 months to process, depending on how much you want to make. Sauerkraut needs a couple weeks to get right and the smell can be overwhelming at first. The result, however, can be fantastic. Fresh pickles of your favorite veggies for a BBQ or summer picnic and people tend to be thrilled at the gift of some homemade infused vinegar, which may have some plague-preventing properties (see Four Thieves Vinegar). Plus fermenting foods makes interesting calendar entries such as “check sauerkraut” or “feed vinegar.”
*Sorry for the puns, couldn’t resist.