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'Tis the season to preserve, friends, so I'm posting another recipe for pickled vegetables. You can't escape the natural cycles of the growing season. So, I'm offering this one up for Summerfest 2010, a community blog event celebrating summer ingredients. This week's theme is cucumbers and zucchini, so it was perfect timing for my pickles.
I have to say that these are the best dill pickles I have ever tasted. Granted, I'm partial, but seriously, these are crunchy, not too salty, and full of garlic, dill, and spices. And best yet, there isn't a drop of vinegar to be found - they are naturally pickled and fermented in a salt brine, and are full of beneficial bacteria.
Lacto-fermentation is a process of preserving foods that relies on lactic acid, a naturally occurring preservative that is produced by lactobacilli. Lactobacilli are live bacteria that exist on the surface of every living thing. At the most basic level, you create a brine of water and salt, which preserves the food long enough for the lactobacilli to catch up and produce lactic acid, which then preserves the food for the long-term. In addition to being preserved, the food is live, meaning that the healthy bacteria are still thriving in the finished food product and are available to your body. Live beneficial probiotic bacteria - like those found in these pickles - help strengthen immune system function, aid in detoxification, and regulate digestion. When you learn to control the production of lactic acid, you are able to protect against putrefying bacteria and safely preserve all kinds of foods, from meats, to vegetables, to fruits, to beverages. Unlike vinegar-cured and canned pickles which are shelf-stable, most lacto-fermented foods require refrigeration or cold storage.
I make a lot of fermented food and find it to be very beneficial to my overall health, especially because I take so many antibiotics for Lyme Disease treatment. I've been playing around with cucumber pickles since last summer, but just hadn't hit the right combination of factors until now. I think I finally nailed it, and have concluded that it comes down to a few decisive factors...