Spicy Lacto-fermented Pickles + A Weck Jars Giveaway

Once a month, I feature a chapter from my book and partner with the folks from MightyNest on a related giveaway. This month, I’m focusing on the health benefits of cultured foods. Read on to learn more about how nutritious these can be, and you’ll have the opportunity to enter a giveaway for beautiful jars in which to make your own delicious versions.

spicy lacto-fermented pickles | healthy green kitchen

Naturally cultured foods and drinks are teeming with vitamins, live enzymes, and natural probiotics (bacteria that are helpful for reducing the amount of harmful organisms in the intestines). These were prevalent in the diets of our ancestors, yet they’re not frequently consumed by most people today. Cultured (aka lacto-fermented) foods are good for everyone, but they are particularly useful if your digestion is poor or your immune system is weak (75% of your immune system’s cells reside in your digestive tract!). Cultured foods foster a healthy digestive environment, and contribute to optimal wellness overall.

spicy lacto-fermented pickles | healthy green kitchen

How lacto-fermentation works: Bacteria known as lactobacilli convert sugars and starches into lactic acid. The presence of lots of lactic acid results in a food that’s exceptionally nutritious and much less prone to spoilage. Before there was refrigeration and before foods were canned to extend their shelf life, they were naturally preserved in small batches using the lacto-fermentation method. Examples of lacto-fermented foods and drinks include yogurt, kefir, miso, kombucha, and vegetable preparations such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and lacto-fermented pickles.

spicy lacto-fermented pickles | healthy green kitchen

I try to include at least one serving of something that’s been lacto-fermented in my diet every day, but I eat more when I have any sort of digestive issue going on or on the rare occasion that I have to take antibiotics. You can purchase high quality versions of cultured foods at natural food stores, but I think knowing how to make your own is a good skill to have (plus you’ll save money). In the photos for this post, you see lacto-fermented asparagus, carrots, and cucumbers. I’ve included the recipe for the cucumbers below, along with some of my favorite fermentation resources.

Lacto-fermented vegetables are a good place to start if you want to begin making your own cultured foods. These are particularly beneficial for you because they contain many nutrients as well as fiber: you can add them to all sorts of dishes as condiments. I’ve been making my own cultured vegetables for years: once you get the hang of the process, you’ll see how easy it is (you don’t need much more than veggies, salt, and a little time), and you’re sure to become hooked. Then you can look forward to always having some cultured veggies on hand to enhance your meals…and your health!

(Text adapted with permission from my book One Simple Change: Surprisingly Easy Ways to Transform Your Lifeby Winnie Abramson. Copyright 2013 by Chronicle Books.)

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Pickled Purslane

My house has a longish rocky driveway and purslane grows like crazy along the edges. I also find it in my garden beds, so I eat it quite a lot. I love its slightly sour flavor raw in salads, and I occasionally cook with it. But it never occurred to me to make pickled purslane until I saw a recipe in Saving the Season: A Cook’s Guide to Home Canning, Pickling, and Preserving by Kevin West.

pickled purslane 1_text

I am new to Kevin’s work (he also has a blog called Saving the Season) and I really enjoy his writing. I own many preserving books but have found Saving the Season to be particularly charming. I’ve loved everything from the book I’ve made so far this summer, including several types of jams and the Sunshine Pickles…Kevin’s recipes are truly inspiring and unique.

Pickled Purslane | Healthy Green Kitchen

Purslane is an edible wild plant with an incredible nutritional profile. According to herbalist Susun Weed, purslane is an excellent source of beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, as well as the minerals calcium and magnesium. Purslane is also a source of the omega-3 fatty acid ALA (alpha linolenic acid). This recipe is easy to make except for one thing: you have to pluck the leaves from the purslane stems (and 1/4 pound is A LOT of purslane leaves!). This is a bit of a pain to be sure, but if you quiet your lazy bits and get meditative about it, you may actually enjoy it. I did.

Pickled Purslane | Healthy Green Kitchen

So how do you eat pickled purslane? Kevin suggests serving it with sandwiches or charcuterie. I like it straight out of the jar…I’ve found it to be a welcome addition to scrambled eggs and enjoy it tossed into salads, too.

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Sweet Pickled Cherry Tomatoes

sweet pickled tomatoes

The amount of tomatoes I’ve harvested from my garden this year has been nothing short of astonishing. I was determined to grow enough so that I could live off tomato salads all summer long AND preserve many to enjoy throughout the winter…I’m well on my way to accomplishing this goal :) With my San Marzanos, … Read more

My Favorite Garlic Dill Pickles

dill pickles

These are by far the best pickles I have ever made. They are crisp, with the perfect amount of dill and garlic. Not too tangy or salty. A little sweet. Calling them my favorite is saying a lot, since I’ve spent the summer thus far making jar after jar of pickles. I’ve mentioned how I … Read more

Lemon Cucumber Pickles

Having a great harvest of cucumbers this summer means I’m getting creative with the pickle recipes. These feature the lovely little lemon cucumbers, and they have wonderful spicy flavor from the chili pepper and ginger. According to The Cook’s Thesaurus, the lemon cucumber is “sweet and flavorful”, basically lacking in “the chemical that makes other … Read more