Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Who doesn’t love pickles? Crunchy and salty, they satisfy two of the three addictive food cravings (you'll have to go somewhere else if you want sweet). Did you know that you could pickle any fruit or vegetable? Chutneys, sauerkraut, kimchi, carrots, beets, garlic, tomatoes, corn, green beans, even ketchup – the list is endless; you are only limited by the space in your refrigerator.
Pickling – also known as lacto-fermentation – preserves digestive enzymes, increases natural probiotics and enhances vitamin absorbability. Pickles can sit in your refrigerator for months and only increase in flavor. They also provide valuable nutrition during the winter months.
Traditionally, pickles of all kinds have been served as a garnish to meats. Medicinally, they can be used to aid digestion and resolve many gastro-intestinal disorders.
Modern mass-production techniques have changed the nature of pickles and eliminated their health benefits. So if you want to buy the real thing, look for words such as 'lacto-fermented,' 'raw' and 'unpasteurized.' If you find vinegar among the ingredients, the health benefits will have been lost. My favorite place to buy pickles is the Hawthorne Valley Farm stand at the Union Square Greenmarket. They have a huge selection and they'll let you sample. Personally, I live on their kimchi.
If you're adventurous enough to try your hand at pickling, you will find it incredibly easy. Some great books that can help along the way include:
the now infamous Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods
and the good old standby Making Sauerkraut and Pickled Vegetables at Home
Last, but not least, I would like to invite you to a pickling class and tasting. You will learn basic traditional pickling techniques and have an opportunity to taste a variety of pickles and chutneys. We will be making garlic pickles, ginger baby carrots and dill green beans. The workshop will take place on Saturday, August 9 at 7:30 PM and will be limited to 10 participants. Admission is $15. Please email me at sandra.dubrov at gmail.com to reserve your spot.