Wow – I’ve been all in a pickle this past week with trying my hand at fermenting veggies. Not only do I love the tart and tangy taste of pickled veggies, but I now fully aware of the plethora of health benefits that these delicious crunchy veggies carry. The biggest health benefit is the pro-biotic thing. Fermented veggies, when fermented properly, contain huge amount of the gut-friendly, GOOD bacteria that we need for optimum health. Anyone with a compromised digestive or immune system would benefit from eating fermented veggies on a daily basis.
Since eating fermented veggies, and/or taking a high quality pro-biotic such as Bio-K, my digestion is better than it was 20 years ago. And, remember that as we get older, our digestive system often weakens due to a diminished supply of digestive enzymes. It’s also interesting to note that virtually every traditional culture has a fermented food as an integral part of their daily diet: Pickled turnips/radishes (Lebanese), Kimchi (Korean), Miso (Japanese), and Kefir (Turkish/Russian).
The word “lacto” can be confusing because it sounds like milk, but it actually refers to the the lactic acid that is formed. Here are five health benefits of eating fermented foods:
- Helps speed up your metabolism
- Dramatically aids digestion
- Strengthens your immune system
- Increases nutritional value of whatever veggie you are using.
- Helps to regular blood sugar – so great for diabetics.
Anyway, I did a bunch of research before embarking on my fermentation adventure, and I finally settled on the Pickl-it system because honestly it takes the guess work out of the whole process, and given that I haven’t got time to “burp” my jars (the simple Mason jar method), and I haven’t got the space for a massive fermentation crock, it made the most sense.
The Pickl-it jars are pretty impressive: It’s a unique jar because of it’s special design, which includes an airlock on the lid, which makes the whole thing look like a wonderful science experiment. When you order the jar, it comes with the air-lock, and then you can add things like the little tamping-down glass weight (the Dunk’R) and the salt etc. It also makes sense to grab one of their kits with different size jar combos.
Okay – so why do we need this special airlock jar? Very simply: To successfully ferment veggies, the gas (CO2) needs to escape from the jar, but you want ZERO oxygen back in the jar (easier said than done), but very easy with this genius airlock system, which does just that. Once your veggies are sealed into the jar, bye bye oxygen. This process is called an anaerobic process because it is an oxygen-free deal. With me so far?
It was way easier for me to make my fermented veggies that it looked like at first blush. As soon as I start seeing airlocks and such, my mind usually switches off, but I promise you it’s as easy as the steps below:
- Grate or cut up your veggies: I tried grated beets, carrot sticks, Jalapenos, peppers, and cabbage.
- Mix in pickling spices if you want them.
- Place the whole lot in your jar.
- Use a rolling pin or the stick thingy from a Vitamix to “tamp” down veggies – this is because you need to push all the air out.
- Add brine (water with sea salt*) up to the shoulder of the jar.
- Push down veggies under the brine with a large cabbage leaf, or a Pickl-it Dunk R. Remember the veggies need to be submerged at all times.
- Seal it the jar closed (the Pickl-it jar has a special hermetic seal).
- Add 2 tbsp water to airlock (prevents oxygen getting in).
- Cover the jar with a dish towel or Pickl-it cover (you gotta keep the light out because light will destroy the good bacteria.)
- Leave it on your kitchen counter for 7 days.
- Transfer to fridge for 3 – 12 weeks (depending on the veggie).
* It’s important to use good sea salt because the iodine in table salt will destroy the good bacteria.
Then comes the really fun part of eating them. I love to eat my fermented veggies in the following ways: topping a salad, packing into a sandwich, topping a veggie burger, and as part of a macro bowl.
I also discovered that you need to eat them with porcelain, wooden, or bamboo utensils because metal can neutralize the good bacteria.
I plan to continue on my fermenting journey because I’m now a total convert. Not only do they make me feel better, but they taste delicious. I just wish I had an enormous fridge to keep all the jars in because I’m already getting the raised eyebrow from my husband each time he opens our fridge and eyes the jars setting there in their Pickl-it designer dresses (Pickl-it has created these really cool jar covers, which are a little more user friendly and pretty than a dish towel.) But in the name of good health, I will persist, and think that I’m actually going to get get rather good at it. There seems to be no end to what I can pickle – so I’m off to my farmers market later today!
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