Pickling by Lacto-Fermentation
For those of you who are following along with Macrobiotics Healing Diet Week, you will want to schedule a day, about 5 days prior to beginning the week, for pickling veggies. However, if you are unable to pickle your own, which I highly recommend, you can purchase a really good quality, without additives, sauerkraut and/or Kimchi. However, the processes we are using are very simple, inexpensive and surprisingly fun! The end of summer is a great time to pickle, as it will enable you to keep all that great summer vegetable nutrition even longer!
The method most used by macrobiotics is lacto-fermentation. If you are familiar with Kimchi or sauerkraut, then you may know something about the process. This method is a staple in macrobiotics and a beneficial component to many diets. Other fermented foods utilized by macrobiotics are umeboshi plum vinegar, brown rice vinegar, miso, shoyu, tempeh, and natto. These foods make up a small, but significant, portion of the macrobiotic diet. To follow are some of the benefits of lacto-fermentation. The process of lacto-fermentation:
- provides an excellent source of beneficial enzymes – probiotics
- helps to balance acidity in the stomach
- aids in digestion, creating healthy flora
- activates the metabolic process
- increases vitamin content of foods, and aids in their absorption in the intestines
- improves iron absorption
- fights harmful bacteria
- produces choline, which lowers blood pressure and aids in fat metabolism
- beneficial to the nervous system, promoting calmness and sleep
- studies show that it may prevent cancer growth, and be beneficial for asthma and autoimmune disorders
Plus – No need for heating! No complicated canning!
There are more complicated ways to utilize this method, and it is helpful to have equipment like pickle presses and crocks. However, the following recipes will serve as a very simple introduction. I don’t think we can make it any simpler than this. If you find that you like the process, enjoy the flavors, and benefit from its health properties (if it makes you feel good), then you can easily expand on this idea!
You will need:
- containers – mason jars work nicely
- weights – plastic lids, anything around the kitchen that will press pickles
- ingredients for each recipe you choose to make
The following recipes are modified from The Macrobiotic Way, by Michio Kushi and Stephen Blauer. The recipes in this book call for pickle presses and crocks, the amounts are large, and ingredient amounts in some cases are unclear. My modifications are for smaller amounts. Feel free to double, or change recipes as needed. However, do try to maintain ratios. Salt will slow or prevent the growth of bad bacteria, but too much salt will kill off the good bacteria too. I also modified methods for the purpose of keeping everything very manageable and simple!
For all Recipes:
- For water, please use filtered or spring water, or the best water you can get.
- Be sure to press out air bubbles and use weight, if needed, to keep vegetables under brine
- Label each jar with dates and instructions, as needed
- Recipes on this page were made to fit little 8 oz mason jars; vegetable measure on each is about 3/4 cup
Red Radish Pickles
How happy was I to find beautiful organic red radishes at my local market around the corner!
- 6-7 red radishes (3/4 c, 3 oz)
- 2 T water
- 2 T umeboshi vinegar (can be purchased at a health foods store – good stuff! In general, use to brighten dishes and as a salt replacement)
Slice radishes into very thin rounds. Put them into a mason jar with the other ingredients.
Use weight to press them down. Pictured below: a little plastic lid wrapped in plastic wrap. Let them sit at room temp. for 2-3 hours, longer if you want a stronger flavor.
Refrigerate. If too salty, serve only 2-3 slices, or rinse.
Couldn’t be cuter.
- 3/4 cup small broccoli florets
- 2 T tamari
- about 5 1/2 T water
- 1 slice fresh ginger
Place all ingredients into a jar. Press and weight so that broccoli stays under liquid. A piece of Chinese cabbage leaf will work nicely. Allow to sit in a cool place for 2-3 days. Then refrigerate or keep in a cool place. If too salty, rinse before eating.
Couldn’t be easier.
- onion, cut into half moons, about 3/4 cup
- 1/4 cup tamari
Place all ingredients into a jar. Weight down enough to keep onions under liquid. Leave pickles for 1-2 days. The longer they sit, the saltier they become. Refrigerate. Rinse before eating if they are too salty.
Do not add liquid to these pickles, as they will release their own. original recipe calls for 1 1/2 lbs daikon to 1/4 t sea salt.
- 3/4 cup (3 1/2 oz or 90 g) daikon, cut into thin slices and half moons
- Small piece of lemon peel
- pinch of sea salt
Place all ingredients into the jar and mix thoroughly. Press and weight. (I used a stack of little medicine bottle lids – washed and covered in plastic wrap, then screwed on the lid to apply pressure.) Allow to sit for 2-3 hours. Remove lemon peel and discard. Place top back on. Apply enough pressure to keep water level just above vegetables. Let pickles sit for one day.
Serve or refrigerate.
- 1/2 Cucumber – about 3 oz, enough to fit in a small jar
- 1/2 t sea salt
- dill sprig
Cut and quarter (or make smaller strips) cucumber, to fit into an 8 oz. mason jar. Add sea salt, dill sprig, and enough water to just cover pickles. Put lid on loosely, or cover with cheese cloth and a rubberband. Leave in a cool place for 2-3 days. Then refrigerate for 2-3 days more.
Carrot & Daikon Pickles
This one is not in the book. I just could not resist throwing it in because carrot and daikon are just so darn beautiful together! The flavors work too.
- carrot and daikon, matchsticks, about 3/4 cup
- 3/4 t sea salt
- Optional, add seasonings, such as garlic, green onion, ginger, shoyu, or red pepper flakes
Cut carrot and daikon into matchsticks (julienne). I recommend going heavier on the carrot, about a 2:1 ratio. Place vegetables into an 8 oz mason jar (or whatever container you are using). Add sea salt. Add seasonings, if desired. Add water, enough to just cover vegetables. Press down with a weight, if needed. Put the lid on loosley. Pickles will begin to ferment and may leak water out of the jar.
Allow to sit at room temperature for one or two days. Then refrigerate. It will continue to develop and will be ready to eat after a week or two.
Note: Chinese cabbage pickles and sauerkraut require a slightly different method and longer fermentation time, so I have not included these today. For the purposes of macrobiotics healing diet week, we are all set! In future posts we will dive into cabbage, sauerkraut, and kimchi.
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