In England they are known as pickles and in Korea as kimchi. Fermented vegetables have been on the menu of almost all nations of the world for thousands of years. And not only for the interesting spicy taste, but also for the great benefit to health. Lactic fermentation enriches vegetables with vitamin C, enzymes and lactic acid and lactobacilli.

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Pickles contain billions of beneficial bacteria and supply the digestive system with the necessary amount fiber. In addition to probiotics, they also provide the body with prebiotics, ideal for healthy microflora in the intestines, balance of gastric juices and improved digestion. Since healthy intestines are the basis of functioning immunitythere is nothing to hesitate about in winter.

How pickles are born

It is actually different types of fermented or not fermented vegetables. Our ancient ancestors already knew this method of preserving crops without using sterilization. During the fermentation process, lactic acid bacteria consume the sugar in the vegetable and convert it into lactic acid. It preserves vegetables, gives them a slightly sour taste and also improves their nutritional value.

“Fermentation is one of the oldest methods of food preservation, just like drying,” said food preservation expert Ing. Radka Langová from the Institute of Food Technology, Mendel University in Brno.

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“Regarding fermentation, this method also creates other substances that can be beneficial to the body. With this method, however, it is necessary – especially in domestic conditions – to monitor the process so that, on the contrary, substances harmful to health do not arise. In the domestic environment, we use the so-called “wild fermentation”, when we do not know the exact species representation of microorganisms – in contrast to industrially fermented products,” she explained.

For the preparation of pickles at home, thick-walled jars with an airtight lid and a flexible plastic insert are sufficient, which keeps the food below the level of the pickle during the entire fermentation period. An ordinary mason jar or a smaller stoneware container will also work. Metal containers are not suitable because the acids produced during fermentation react with the metal.

Only quality vegetables

You can use any fresh a healthy vegetables with sufficient carbohydrates. White and red cabbage, cauliflower, celery, onions, carrots or beets are suitable. Ideally, use your own crops or buy organic quality fruits, which you can be sure do not contain pesticides and other chemicals.

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Be careful that they are not rotten or moldy, not even on a small piece. The fermentation process could be disrupted and the whole batch would then go moldy. Combine vegetables according to personal preferences, the resulting taste will be your original.

Tips for a good result:

  • Cut or circle the vegetables into small pieces – cubes, rounds or strips. They will ferment better.
  • Maintain hygiene, the fermentation container must always be clean, including the neck and lid.
  • During the fermentation process, wipe the neck of the container several times.
  • Vegetables must always be submerged, this is the only way they won’t mold.
  • The vegetables will bubble as they ferment, so leave a space above them so they don’t leak out, and place a plate under the jar.
  • Avoid a place in the sun, the vegetables then spoil.
  • For example, cover the container with a plate or other “weight” so that the juice does not evaporate so quickly and flies do not fly inside. However, if you closed the container airtight, the resulting carbon dioxide would have nowhere to escape.

3 fermentation methods

In its own juice
It is ideal for vegetables with plenty of juice, such as cabbage. You can combine it with less juicy varieties. For the correct result, use salt in the ratio of 15 to 20 grams of salt per 1 kilogram of vegetables. Sprinkle salt over chopped or sliced ​​vegetables, mix and let sit for one to three hours, during which time the vegetables will release their juices.

Stir the mixture several times and mash with clean hands. Then put it in the container and always tamp it in layers. Pour the remaining juice into the glass as well.

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In the pickle
Vegetables with a lower content of their own juice can be fermented in salt brine or pickled with ume vinegar. The preparation is the same for both. Cut the washed vegetables into small pieces and stuff them into a glass. Add the spices so they don’t float to the top and cover with the marinade. You can get salt brine by boiling water and salt in a ratio of approximately 15 grams of salt per 1 liter of water. Use the solution when it has cooled so as not to stop the fermentation process.

No salt
For salt-free fermentation, it is essential to start the fermentation process as quickly as possible. The easiest way is to add probiotic cultures (you can buy capsules at the pharmacy) and a little sugar or honey, which they will feed on. Puree some of the vegetables with boiled lukewarm water to obtain a juice in which the vegetables will be immersed. The result will be slightly different, the vegetables will be softer and less crunchy.

Always store fermented vegetables in the refrigerator in resealable containers (or cover them with cling film) and always remove them with a clean fork. The fermentation process stops in the cold and the delicacy lasts for several weeks. For better digestion, always eat vegetables after a meal.