1 April 2014

Pickles, Pickles and more Pickles

Happy 1st of April everyone! Those of you in the UK, happy April fools! 

Recently I was helping out at 'La Escuela de Cocina Natural y Energetica' in Barcelona in the practical class. A great bunch of new students eager to learn, full of enthusiasm and 'ganas' as they say here to try new recipes. In that class we demonstrated how to make homemade pickles. 

There are many pickles around the world from gherkins (originally from West Africa, later West Indies and then central Europe), to sauerkraut (which has been documented in ancient Korean and Roman texts, later becoming a regular in German and Eastern European countries), and much later Branston pickle in the UK which is like a chutney. Originally pickles such as sauerkraut were created using a natural fermentation process. Simply by adding salt and water to shredded cabbage and allowing it to take on a process called lacto-fermentation, a natural pickle is formed full of healthy bacteria goodness. 

The thing to note nowadays is that many shop bought pickles do not contain healthy bacteria. Manufacturers have sped up the process by simply adding vinegar, sugar and salt to create the sour flavour. This does the complete opposite to the natural version. Instead of promoting a healthy digestive system, the vinegar can irritate the bowels and create excess acidity, depleting important minerals from the body.

The great thing with natural pickles is that not only are you helping you and your kids to have a healthy digestive system, they can also stimulate appetite for kids who have lost their appetite. 

NOTE: Pickles are advised to be eaten in very small amounts for young children as they contain salt.

Simply empty a clean jam jar, fill with sliced carrots (or another vegetable), and add salt water (one large 500g jar takes 1 large heaped tablespoon of salt). Leave the jar in a cool dry place (lid off!) covered with a cheese cloth for 3 days to start the fermentation process. After 3 days you can put the lid on and place in the fridge. Ready to eat in 10 days!

TIPS: If you find they are too salty, simply exchange some of the brine for fresh water and leave for another 24hrs in the fridge before eating. 

Try this with your children and involve them in the process. They will love the salty, sour taste of these pickles!