The Nordic Pantry: Pickled Vegetables
Have you read lately about the benefits of Naturally Fermented (Pickled) Foods?
Not only are the probiotics in these foods excellent for the health of your digestive tract, but fermented foods are also easier to digest because fermentation helps break down “difficult to digest” cellulose in vegetables, which means that if there are certain vegetables you avoid because they seem to bother you, it is possible you can enjoy them again once they’ve been fermented for a few days.
Rather than losing nutrients in traditional preserving methods, fermenting your vegetables actually raises the vitamin content! Fermented foods are flavorful and, when stored in a cool place, will keep for up to 8 months, which means that you could be enjoying the produce from your garden or local Farmers Market all winter long!
It’s time to get creative with fermented veggies! Naturally fermented pickled vegetable medley is great for a snack, and these tasty veggies can also be used to top a salad or add spice to a sandwich. Dice the veggies up and serve them on top of tacos or toss them in a food processor with a little cream cheese for a great dip! A splash of the probiotic-loaded brine from these pickles mixed in with a little extra virgin olive oil makes a wonderful dressing for your salad and can add flavor to soups, stews, and other dishes.
Start with fresh, vegetables at the peak of ripeness like carrots, celery, cauliflower, white and/or red onions, mini red, yellow, and orange peppers, garlic cloves, and a few tiny hot peppers for flavor. You can add spices to the mix, such as pickling spice and fresh dill…or leave them out if you’d rather have the veggies plain. Just wash, trim, and chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces and then set them aside while you make the brine.
Brine is simply filtered water (you will want to make sure your water is free of chlorine…you can boil it on the stove top if you do not a filter) and sea salt. Mix up a batch in a large pitcher, and if you have any leftover, store it in a jar for the next batch of veggies or use as a flavor add-in to other recipes!
Now pack the vegetables tightly into clean jars, add the spices (if you are using them), carefully pour the brine over the veggies. Then, add the cabbage to the top (to keep the veggies submerged in the brine, put a lid on, and secure tightly.
Let them sit on your counter for 3-7 days, opening the jars once a day to enable the gas escape and check to make sure the cabbage leaves are keeping the vegetables down in the brine. The vegetables will continue to get sourer as they ferment, so taste them after a few days to see if they are as sour as you would like. When the flavor is just right, pop them in the fridge or in a cool place…they’ll hold their flavor and will stay fresh for months.
Right now, as the growing season is winding down and there are so many great organic vegetables available from the garden and market. It’s so fun to put food away for the winter, knowing that you’ll be enjoying fresh produce all year long.
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