Fermentation, pickling and preserving have become a recent obsession of mine, and those who have come to the wandering kitchen pop-up dinners have seen how it is always present in my dishes.
It offers the chance to capture the season you are in, by preserving and using seasonal produce at its best. Fermentation, pickling and preserving also comes with some amazing health benefits, especially for gut and digestive health. The fermented food helps maintain your gut bacteria (good bacteria), which in turn helps with a healthy digestive system, all the while boosting your immunity. Pickling and brining also help maintain pH levels and help our ‘healthy’ bacteria in the stomach and digestive track.
Below are a few fermentation recipes to either pickle, ferment or preserve some products, along with some recipes to use the finished product. These are just a small fraction of what is available out there.
Start by sterilising your jars to stop any build-up of bad bacteria
Preserved lemon is a common component in North African cuisine. Preserving them takes the tartness out of them while enhancing the actual lemon flavour. They are great in tagines, stews, fish dishes and sauces. Once preserved, it’s the peel which is used, but I find the ‘meat’ and also the pickling liquid lovely to use in spicing up salad dressings.
Kimchi is a South Korean fermented food, using salt to extract moisture from the vegetables being brined. More flavour is added such as Korean chilli and fish sauce.
The basic traditional recipe is made with cabbage, but I find a variety of vegetables go well; making it a perfect way to use up leftover vegetables. I have added cauliflower, zucchini, cucumber, carrot, onions, daikon, radish, bok choy and wombok (Chinese cabbage).
Sweet Vinegar Pickles
Pickling is another obsession of mine and helps aid good bacteria and stomach digestion.
There are a variety of methods to pickle food. The main ones, which I’ve included here are, sour vinegar pickling, sweet vinegar pickling, and salt pickling. Once you have pickled a few times, you may experiment with a variety of flavourings; and experiment with combinations, such as pickled fennel with dill, pickled onions with toasted cumin and coriander seeds, pear pickled with mustard seeds and saffron, the list goes on. Most vegetables and fruits can be pickled, so see what’s in season and give it a go. Below are the basic recipes for pickling.