Ever wonder why it’s important to eat “live” foods? Curious about what it takes to pickle at home?
Life Alive Cambridge joyfully hosted a Pickling Symposium on Tuesday August 9th which was free and open to all. As pickling devotees snacked on mason jars full of pickled carrots and cauliflower in the purple chakra lounge at the Cambridge urban oasis, we learned just how important and easy it is to ferment!
Fermentation unlocks the transformative powers of micro-organisms and dates in practice as far back as 6000 B.C. Did you know that fermented foods preserve more nutrients than canning? Fermented foods include everyday favorites such as sourdough bread, yogurt, wine, chocolate, and cheese as well as more curious foods like kimchi, pickles, fish sauce, and even miso and kombucha.
“Gut health is really important,” explains Life Alive’s Chief Culinary Genius Leah Dubois. “You make gut decisions. The brain has two hemispheres for decisions, but gut decisions are innate and designed to pull you forward. Therefore, it’s important to have a healthy gut. The belly button pulls you where you need to go!”
At Life Alive cafes, we use Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar which has live cultures and something called a “mother” which is an unpasteurized living organism in the fermenting liquid similar to kombucha. Bragg Organic Vinegar includes active probiotics that keeps your body humming and can break down other dense nutrition found in raw foods, assimilating with other nutrients that your body consumes and helping you to absorb and digest them. Explains host Rachel Liberatore, “Enzymes in the vinegar make the nutrients more available. Symptoms from chronic diseases, allergies, asthma, and yeast infections, all can be lessened.”
Ready to improve your gut flora? Here are four easy steps to a delicious, homemade pickle:
1.Cut up vegetables such as cauliflower, carrots, and onions. Chef Leah recommends using whatever is fresh from your garden or CSA. For carrots, Leah recommends peeling them to reveal a bright orange color in fermentation. Presentation matters when cutting up the vegetables, so be sure to slice them with spirit! We prefer not to cook the veggies so that they retain their nutrients. Put the veggies into a mason jar that has a lid.
2.Create a brine using a mixture of 60% water and 40% Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. Add spices such as cardamom, mustard seeds, turmeric, Portuguese sea salt, and pepper. Whisk.
3.Submerge pickled veggies with the brine liquid, to cover. Remember, the brine is a living liquid which you can enhance over time by adding in garlic or sweetener such as maple syrup for taste. Vinegar and salt will draw moisture out of the veggies while flavor goes in!
4.Close the jar lid and allow the veggies to marinate in the brine, in the refrigerator, for as little as a few hours to four or five days. If you feel a cold coming on, take a sip of the brine! At Life Alive, we offer a fire tonic for sale that is extremely invigorating but also fermented and probiotic.
Most of all, be creative! Other recipe ideas include:
•Beets and red onion
•Sliced jalapeno peppers, a bit of salt, and pinch of maple syrup or natural figs for sweetness
•Ginger sliced thin with pink peppercorns
•Rhubarb or grapes (cut in half) to take a salad to the next level
The Life Alive team is hard at work in the kitchen cooking up new recipes that include more pickles! What kinds of fermented foods would you like to see us use? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your thoughts and ideas.
Care to learn more? Recommended future reading:
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers by Stephen Harrod Buhner
Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz
By Lizzie Bell, Communications Guru at Life Alive Urban Oasis and Organic Cafes