Dear Annette: Pickled Foods

Dear Annette: Pickled Foods

Annette Doody
Savory Bistro Owner & Wellness Coach

Dear Annette :
I hear pickling foods is a very healthy thing to do. Why is that?

Dear Reader :

Anything that has been around for over 4000 years is usually a good thing. Pickling is truly that old. Apparently the first pickling was in India around 4000 years ago. Almost every culture has some form of fermentation or pickling in their cuisine. The Koreans have kimchi, all throughout Asia you can find pickled ginger. Europeans made sauerkraut and cucumber pickles. In India, pickled mango is a popular side. Cultures pickled food to preserve it. There were no freezers or way to keep the bounty of a harvest. Pickling served that purpose. Some cultures even pickled fish and beef.

Through the power of observation, cultures realized that pickled food was also good for health . We now know the science behind it. Pickling uses fermentation to break down the cellulose fiber of plants and make them easier to digest. In the process of fermentation good bacteria, enzymes, antioxidants and probiotics are created. These are all vital to a good gut biome. 70% of our immune system is in our gut biome. What cultures observed was that eating these foods kept them from being sick as often.

Home pickling is easy and a great way to preserve all the goodness of summer vegetables and fruit. Yes, pickled fruit can make an interesting side to have on a cheese tray or with grilled meat or chicken. Most pickled foods start with vinegar, salt and spice. Some use sugars. Like most things that are good for us, a little goes a long way. Pickled foods are meant as really condiments with our meals. Too much pickled foods can irritate the stomach for some people and raise sodium levels. A little pickled food with a meal just helps digestion and can help the integrity of our gut biome.

Be wary of store bought pickled items. Read the labels as many are extremely high in sodium and sugar. Many processed pickles are made with extreme heat which kills all the good bacteria and enzymes. Stores like Whole Foods are careful to bring in only pickled items that have not been over processed, so that they retain the health benefits.

Home pickling is actually a very easy and inexpensive way to have lots of fun pickled items in your pantry during the winter months to give meals, appetizers, or cheese trays a little variation and fun. Most importantly, they keep you healthy and feeling energetic during the winter months when you need a good gut biome to kill off those flu and cold bugs!

Pickling is easy and there are several pickling recipe books available even at stores like Target where you can buy pickling supplies. It can be a fun summer project with kids on a hot day. When kids help prepare things, they want to eat them – creating perfect items for school lunches.

Here are two great links to check out to learn more about pickling this summer. Remember almost anything can be pickled.

The Kitchen
Bon Appetite

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