Believe it or not, the homemade common green pickle is an excellent probiotics food source. So is homemade sauerkraut, considered a probiotic super food! And the ‘sauerkraut’ can be made of any of the Brassica family plants – broccoli, cabbage – green or red is fine, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, bok choy, kohlrabi, etc. These plants have the same bacteria as in yogurt, and the bacteria does all the work naturally!
Probiotics? Say what? What are they and why would you want them?!
Per WebMD.com ‘Probiotics are organisms such as bacteria or yeast that are believed to improve health. They are available in supplements and foods. The idea of taking live bacteria or yeast may seem strange at first. After all, we take antibiotics to fight bacteria. But our bodies naturally teem with such organisms. The digestive system is home to more than 500 different types of bacteria. They help keep the intestines healthy and assist in digesting food. They are also believed to help the immune system.’
Pickling cucumbers are fun to grow, crunchy tasty off the vine, and the survivors are easy to make into pickles! Basically, use any mix of spices that pleases you, add it to your jars. Wash, leave whole or cut to fit, and puncture your cukes – so the brine is better absorbed, stuff them into the jar too. Make a salt and water brine, pour it over them a 1/2″ more than the height of the cukes. Ferment a few days and they’re yours!
HellaDelicious uses a marvelous spice mix (below), and has great tips on her page by page recipe – see all the details! Or just do water and salt, forget all the spices! But, I’ll bet you have a few of these spices handy and could quickly throw in a few, just your favorites, of course! Be creative! This works for any veggies you would like to pickle – cauliflower, beans, asparagus, onions, carrot slices, beets, tomatoes!
- small handful fennel seeds (you gathered from an unsprayed place)
- 6-10 black peppercorns
- 1 T mustard seeds
- 5-7 cloves
- 5-6 cloves of garlic, sliced (you grew your own)
- dill flower heads and leaves (you grew it next to your cukes)
- small handful of coriander seeds (cilantro you let bolt and seed)
- 1 horseradish root, sliced (fresh is great but it’s highly invasive)
- cinnamon bark
You may enjoy A cheater’s guide to quick pickling almost anything by wild Brooklynite pickler Kenji Magrann-Wells.
Foods that are pickled are those that have been preserved in an acidic medium. In the case of various types of supermarket pickles on the shelf, the pickling comes from vinegar. These vegetables, however, are not fermented (even though vinegar itself is the product of fermentation) and hence do not offer the probiotic and enzymatic value of homemade fermented vegetables.
Vegetables that you ferment in your kitchen using a starter, salt, and some filtered water create their own self preserving, acidic liquid that is a by-product of the fermentation process. This lactic acid is incredibly beneficial to digestion when consumed along with the fermented vegetables or even when sipped alone as anyone on the GAPS Intro Diet has discovered (cabbage juice anyone?). In other words, homemade fermented veggies are both fermented and pickled. [Be sure to read the comments on her page too!]
She says not only are there probiotics, but these homemade foods
- Enhance the vitamin content of the food.
- Preserve and sometimes enhance the enzyme content of the food.
- Improve nutrient bio-availability in the body.
- Improve the digestibility of the food and even cooked foods that are consumed along with it!
To your excellent health and the great sport of pickling and krauting!