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by

Eoin

during lockdown I have jumped on the pickling and fermenting bandwagon. Fermenting, in particular, has become very fashionable in recent times aided somewhat by Noma becoming a trendy thing to namedrop in conversation. Many people use the terms, pickling and fermenting, interchangeably yet there is a difference. Pickling involves putting food into an acidic brine to produce a sour flavour, while fermenting gives flavour without any added acid. Ferments have some serious health benefits. They are loaded with probiotics and can improve digestion. Pickles, on the other hand, aren’t the healthiest of options. It doesn’t stop them being delicious however.

Before getting started it’s important to properly sterilise the jars you’ll be using. Do this by washing thoroughly with soapy water and then putting them in an oven on low heat for 10 mins.

The sky is the limit when it comes to pickling and fermenting, but here are a few recipes on the easy side to get you going…

Simple Fermented Cucumbers

The simplest recipes are often the best. For fermenting to take place all you need is water, salt, vegetables and time! From this foundation, you can experiment by adding garlic, herbs or whole spices. This fermentation recipe also works well with carrots and radish.

How to make:

  1. To make the brine, combine warm water and 2 tablespoons of sea salt. Set aside to cool.
  2. Cut the cucumbers into chunks and tightly pack into your sterilised jar alongside smashed garlic cloves and fresh dill.
  3. Pour over the brine, ensuring that the vegetables are completely covered.
  4. Screw on the lid and then leave to ferment for 10-14 days. Try to store the jar somewhere that doesn’t fluctuate in temperature, so don’t leave it in direct sunlight or near the oven.

Serving suggestion:

Fermented cucumbers are the ideal companion to cold meats in a sandwich.

Chinese-Style Smashed Cucumber

If you can’t wait 14 days then try these quick refrigerator pickles. These are vegetables pickled in a vinegar, water, and salt (sometimes sugar, as well) and then stored in the fridge for a few days. Quick pickles don’t quite give you the intense flavour that fermented pickles do. So for this recipe I’ve compensated by using ingredients that really pack a punch - soy sauce and chilli.

What you’ll need:

How to make:

  1. Use a rolling pin, or the flat surface of a large knife to smash a whole cucumber slightly. Then roughly chop into chunks.
  2. Place the cucumbers into a bowl and sprinkle salt on top. Set aside in the fridge for an hour.
  3. Over a low heat dissolve the sugar with equal parts soy sauce, water, rice vinegar.
  4. Add in the rest of the ingredients and leave to cool.
  5. Take the cucumbers out of the fridge and strain out the excess water, then pack them into a jar. Pour the mixture over and refrigerate overnight.

Serving suggestion:

Perfect addition to a rice bowl.

Fermented Mushrooms

This one is adapted from a Brad Leone Recipe (something of a god amongst youtube fermenters). It’s definitely one for the more experimental minded as the texture of mushrooms isn’t to everyone’s liking.

What you’ll need:

How to make:

  1. Pack shiitake mushrooms into a jar with chunks of fresh ginger and then top with Mirin seasoning and light soy sauce.
  2. Leave for at room temperature for 7 days.

Serving suggestion:

On toasted rye bread with gouda cheese.

Pickled Rhubarb

Finally, one for a sweater tooth. I know rhubarb isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when thinking about what pickling, but trust me, it’s amazing!

How to make:

  1. On a low heat, gently simmer the all the ingredients until the sugar and salt have dissolved.
  2. Pour the mixture over a packed jar of chopped rhubarb and seal with the lid.
  3. Refrigerate for 3 days before digging in.

Serving suggestion:

On vanilla ice cream