In her latest piece, Dr. Colbran Marjerrison explores the benefits of pickling:
So you ordered pickling cucumbers. “Make pickles” you said, “It will be fun” you said. Yet the week is creeping by and there they sit in your fridge with no jar in sight. I have to say it - you’ve found yourself, in a pickle (ba dum cha). What if I told you your life is likely to improve if you make those pickles? What if I told you, you don’t have to stop (or start) at cucumbers? You might not realize this, and it might blow your mind, but you can pickle your market extras too. That’s right, carrots, onions, beets and cabbage all preserved in their probiotic glory to benefit your health, taste buds, and charcuterie boards for eternity. (Well, maybe not eternity but up to 8 weeks).
Pro tip: if you don’t feel like pickling for yourself but are still looking for the benefits of fermented foods the Raon Kitchen Kimchi is actually the best I’ve had.
Three fun pickle myths, busted or approved by your favourite ND.
- Myth or Bust: Cleopatra used to eat pickles claiming that her beauty would be preserved in consuming them.
ND opinion: Homemade probiotic pickles, such as the ones consumed by Cleopatra, are both acidic and have high amounts of healthy Lactobacilli cultures. Considering publications from the 21st century correlating low stomach acid and imbalanced gut flora with concerns of the complexion such as rosacea, acne, and overall skin luminosity, I’m pleased to tell you Cleopatra was on to something with her beauty hack.
- Myth or Bust: Pickles are a popular hangover food in the Ukraine and are said to help alleviate symptoms of veisalgia (medical term for hangover) including headache, nausea, fatigue.
ND opinion: As an ND for the people, it pleases me to be the bearer of excellent news. There are multiple studies examining Lactobacillus strains independently or as a part of a fermented food, all of which suggest that most strains, such as those found in your homemade pickle jar, produce enzymes (Alcohol dehydrogenase ADH and Acetaldehyde dehydrogenase ACDH) required to metabolize alcohol and/or encourage our bodies to produce greater amounts of our own. To add to that, when comparing a fermented vs an unfermented version of the same food, ADH activity was up to 8x greater with the fermented food, so you know it’s the little lactobacilli that are putting in the big effort.
- Myth or Bust: Pickle juice can help you win sports - The Philadelphia Eagles attribute their victory over the Dallas cowboys in a balmy 40+ degree game to chugging back pickle juice to stay hydrated.
ND opinion: While I couldn’t find any studies to support or refute this, the salt in the pickles likely helped these gentlemen keep an optimal electrolyte balance, while the sour tang of our favourite condiment probably offered some mental alertness. Throw in a strong placebo effect resulting from the excitement of drinking pickle juice and you’ve got yourself a combination for a winning game.
There are a ton of awesome recipes on the net of DYI pickling, and it is SO EASY. 15 minutes, start to finish (and then waiting a few days to put them in the fridge).
Making Probiotic Pickles
2 lbs pickling cucumber (or get creative and use your other veg, you won’t regret it!)
6 cloves of garlic
A head of dill
2 tbsp of peppercorn
1 bay leaf
1.5 tbsp of Sea or Himalayan Salt
6 cups of distilled water
Anything else you want to experiment with
2, 1 gallon mason jars
- Cool your pickling vegetables for 10 mins in a bowl of ice water prior to pickling
- Sterilize your jars and lids, by boiling them in hot water (100% sterility is not required for this process) for 1 minute.
- While jars are cooling, mix the salt and the water in a separate bowl. You may need to warm the mixture slightly on the stove top to get the salt 100% dissolved.
- Once the jars are room temperature, layer vegetables, garlic and other herbs (dill and peppercorn are popular) in the jar, alternating to optimize use of space and diffusion of tastes.
- Pour water over veg into jars leaving 2 inches to allow for fermentation
- Gently close the lids on the jar (so it’s not on tight but not moveable
- Place the jars in a cool place like a basement.
- After 3-5 days, the pickles will show signs of life (bubbles and maybe some clouds). Allow any gasses to escape by loosening the lid. Tighten the lid completely then transfer the jars to the fridge, burping the jars once a week (if you can’t be bothered with burping the pickles which may offer a more sour pickle, simply leave the lids on a little bit looser).
- Enjoy within 2 months!