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Pick Pickles for Digestive Health

jars of pickled vegetables

One of the ways to support the digestive system is to eat pickled foods. Fermented pickles, in particular, are rich in probiotics that restore healthy gut flora and enhance the immune system. They also provide digestive enzymes and increase the bioavailability and absorption of vitamins and minerals in foods that have been pickled. Especially recommended for supporting the characteristically weak digestion in Indian Summer body types, pickled foods are also beneficial for all body types.

There are two basic types of pickle recipes – fermented pickles and vinegar-brined pickles. Both types of pickling involve the use of acid to destroy harmful bacteria and preserve the food. Fermented pickles like sauerkraut and kimchee are made using the process of fermentation, in which naturally occurring bacteria feed on sugars and starches in the foods and create lactic acid. Vinegar-brined pickles, also known as quick pickles or refrigerator pickles, are made with the addition of vinegar.

Fermented Pickles

General procedure: Use a fermentation vessel such as a ceramic crock or a glass jar with an airlock lid to maintain an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment. Hardy vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, radishes, and green beans work well for pickling. Pour salt brine (dissolve 3 tablespoons of sea salt for each quart of water) over top of the vegetables to cover. Weigh the vegetables down with a ceramic or glass weight to keep them fully submerged under the brine. Store and ferment at a cool room temperature until ready to serve.

Simple Sauerkraut Recipe

3 pounds cabbage

1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt

Spices (optional), e.g. garlic, dried herbs, caraway seeds, etc.

Core the cabbage and cut it into thin slices or shred using a food processor. Put the cabbage in a large bowl, add the salt, and massage into the cabbage. Let the cabbage sit for 30-60 minutes to draw water out. Add spices if desired. Put cabbage and brine into a fermentation vessel and pack down. Place a few whole cabbage leaves over top and keep the cabbage submerged under the brine with a weight. If using an airlock lid, seal the jar with the lid. Let the sauerkraut ferment at room temperature for 5-7 days, periodically releasing carbon dioxide from the vessel if necessary.

Vinegar-Brined Pickles

General procedure: Wash and dry the vegetables and pack them into a glass jar. Make a basic brine of 1 part vinegar (such as white, rice, or apple cider vinegar) to 1 part water. Boil the brine and pour into the jar, fully covering the vegetables and leaving at least 1/2 inch of space at the top. Tighten the lid on the jar and cool at room temperature. Store in refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.

Japanese-Style Pickled Cucumber Recipe

1 large English cucumber, thinly sliced

1/2 cup rice vinegar

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon sea salt

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Place cucumber slices in a jar. Boil vinegar, water, salt and honey in a small saucepan over high heat, stirring to dissolve. Add lemon zest. Pour mixture over cucumber slices. Place lid on jar and cool to room temperature. Store in refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Photo by: casanisa/

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