Pickled foods have their perks. Not only can you make one $3 vegetable last three weeks, the health benefits for something that tastes this good are incredible.
“Fermented fruits and vegetables are some of the best foods in the world for your gut flora,” says Katie Sindelar, a former nutrition sales associate at the Hit Locker (now ELLIPTIHIT) in the Chicago area. “Your gut is basically your second brain, it controls how you digest food and fights the toxins inside.”
In times like these when going to the grocery store seems scary, pickling food at home makes life safer and more affordable. I found a cookbook at my house made by chef, Paul Virant. He specializes in pickling at his restaurants in the Chicago area. I decided to take a few recipes out and try them for myself.
The foods I chose to pickle were jalapeños, onions, red cabbage, and mushrooms (one of each). I chose these because they are all foods I already enjoy on their own and wanted to taste the difference after being pickled for weeks.
The process is much easier than you think but just as smelly. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Gather ingredients
For each recipe I needed to use white or red wine vinegar, sugar, salt, hot water, and some variety of spices. For the mushrooms and cabbage, red wine vinegar, for the jalapeños and mushrooms the opposite. For each recipe I made about one large mason jar full, or three small ones.
Step 2: Combine Ingredients
I mix 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons of salt, and ¼ cup of vinegar into a large mixing bowl. After that, I added 1 cup of hot water to dissolve the sugar and salt.
Step 3: Fill jars
Next, I pour the mixture over the veggies that are already in the mason jars. They are then sealed with a rubber ring and closed until further notice.
Step 4: Patience and preservation
Now the jars will be sealed and sit on the counter for one hour, they are then refrigerated for two to three weeks and are free to be enjoyed any time after 24 hours.
Pickling vegetables preserves their antioxidant power, which helps to fight off illness and bacteria in the body, according to a Healthline article.
I come from an eastern European family, seeing fermented food in the garage fridge has been a staple in my life. My grandparents are both in their late 70s and thriving, that must count for something. In a time like this we can all use a hint or two on how to stay healthy and occupy our time. Go out to your local market and grab some of your favorite vegetables or even fruits. Pickled food can go on sandwiches, salads, burgers, omelets or just about anything. Even though it seems like we are in a pickle right now, let’s enjoy it how we can.