Fermented pickles do not contain vinegar.

Lunch Hour Lesson #12

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A certain type of food has been growing in popularity and it not only contains very high enzyme levels but also helps support the acidic environment of the stomach. And relating to bone density, a study in 2011 observed that consumption of this type of food while using acid blocker medications prevented bone loss.

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What is it you ask? Well, it’s fermented foods! Kombucha, kefir, and sauerkraut are probably the most well-known right now.

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I remember years ago when I started making these foods at home, not many people had heard of them here in the United States. Now they’re in almost every grocery store, which makes them very easy to obtain.

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Fermentation is a process where, in an anerobic environment (meaning without oxygen), the carbohydrates in the food or beverage feed beneficial bacteria and produce a sour taste.

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Mold and toxins can’t grow in this type of environment, so fermenting has historically been used as a way to preserve fruits, vegetables, and milk for a long time. This is before canning in water baths was invented.

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Today I’m going to introduce one of my favorite fermented foods, which are salt brine pickles.

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What we call a pickle is really a cucumber that has been made sour, either with vinegar, or with a salt water brine. Most store-bought pickles, and even recipes to make homemade pickles, use vinegar.

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But vinegar pickles are not fermented pickles, and do not have any of the health-promoting benefits that I mentioned at the beginning of this episode. Vinegar is a just a time-saving convenience to get that classic sour taste without having to spend time waiting for the cucumbers to ferment naturally.

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The sour taste in fermented pickles comes from the lactic acid that is formed from the fermentation process. Because of this, they can be called “lacto-fermented” pickles.

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Turns out these were fermented pickles! The brine that cultures beneficial yeasts and bacteria makes the water cloudy.

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One of the easiest-to-find brands of fermented pickles in grocery stores is Bubbies. Most natural food markets and some supermarket chains carry it. Bubbies states boldly on their label that they don’t use any vinegar, and the ingredients list only cucumbers, artesian well water, salt, and spices.

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There are other local brands springing up all the time, and you’ll usually find them in the refrigerated deli section, rather than with the condiments on the shelf.

Weekend Tip

Look up a recipe online for salt brine pickles and share this recipe with a friend. OR Go on a scavenger hunt to find salt brine pickles in your local market. Take a picture of the product and share on social media.

Lunch Hour Lesson #12: There's More to Pickles, Part 1

Posted by Allison Mädl Nutritional Therapy and Education on Wednesday, January 23, 2019