As all of the non-perishables fly off the shelves, let us direct our attention to some of the healthier ones, the ones that are potentially fermented. I say potentially because there are multiple methods of pickling.
There is quick pickling, or refrigerator pickling, which uses vinegar, salt, and a short time in the fridge to create that familiar flavor and characteristic crunch. And then, there is the delicious AND nutritious method of lacto fermentation.
As the name implies, quick pickling is a preferred method for those in a time crunch (I’ve got puns and I’m not ashamed to use them) while lacto fermentation, as usual, takes some time. A tasty quick pickle is ready to enjoy in just 3 days or so. But the feeding of little organisms who do all the predigestion work for you should take at least 10 days before they’re at their peak of health and taste.
Of course I am here to sell you on the latter. Fermented vegetables are a probiotic food, which means the nutrients regularly available in the raw, cooked, or canned versions are more diverse and more easily absorbed by the body once fermented. Not to mention, in the area of preserving, while canned goods are shelf stable for close to eternity with no change in flavor profile, these fermented vegetables, much like a fine wine, are aging and continuing their fermentation safely at room temperature while developing bolder tangy nuances.
Basically, by submerging fresh organic veg in a salty brine we are creating a safe space for good bacteria and a toxic place for the bag guys. So the key is simply: KEEP THESE VEGGIES UNDER THE BRINE. The process must remain anaerobic (without air) to stay safe. So we’re talking serious beginner skill set here people. Put the vegetables in a jar, cover them with brine, don’t let the brine level drop or the veggies float. Done. Enjoy. You’re welcome.
Interested in starting some jars at home? Standard brine ratio is 2-3 Tablespoons of good salt to 1 quart of filtered water. No lid, just a coffee filter and a rubber band. We don’t want any jars exploding from the pressure in the process. This recipe applies for a variety of tasty produce including but not limited to beets, asparagus, carrots or beans. This is not the method you would use for sauerkraut. We’ll get to that later!