The first perceived value of fermented foods was likely how they were protected from spoiling, could be stored for later use, and were easier to transport. The ways in which fermented foods were introduced and became common are mostly lost to us. Folklore in Japan holds that miso was introduced during the ‘age of the gods.’ Only recently have the efficacies and nutrition improvements of fermented foods become better known.
Fresh food's life span tends to be short. Substantially increasing the time during which food is appealing and usable had a transformative, fundamentally freeing effect on humanity. Every known past civilization used fermentation and pickling of food to ensure availability and variety for greater periods of time and circumstances.
Drying and freezing no doubt came first. Sun-drying preserved some foods, and freezing preserved almost all of them. Nevertheless, ‘fireless cooking’ or fermentation has been used for a very very long time, and continuously.
Pickling Transforms and Accentuates
Microorganisms of fermentation create enzymes that do things like convert starch to sugars, and then to alcohol for beer and wine. When that fermentation continues alcohol is converted to acetic acid and makes vinegar. There is considerable commercial value in the results of those fermentation processes, but there is a lot more chemistry going on that is not commonly known or appreciated. It too has great value, for instance the complexity of beneficial compounds created as mother of vinegar works its magic.
Certain enzymes of pickling and fermentation break down proteins into their component amino acids. The dynamics of the processes are complex and vary considerably dependent upon factors related to the food, the starter culture, and the environment. A major goal of modern food processing has been to eliminate, as much as possible, the variables, subtleties, complexities, and the requirement of good human judgment being involved. This is accomplished today using GMO derived enzymes and mechanically managed environments.
Pickling or lacto-fermentation is a method of food preservation using a vinegar salt brine, or similar solution. Records of its use go back to at least 2030 B.C. in Mesopotamia. Beneficial Lactobacillus bacteria thrives on sugar and produces lactic acid. They are used to make lactic acid fermented foods, and it gives sauerkraut and pickles their tangy, sour taste.
Intelligent fermentation can transform food into being more nutritious, more delicious, and easier to digest. Essentially, it is a pre-consumption digestion or breaking down process that converts complex nutrients into simpler, easier to absorb ones. Human assimilation is then much easier and draws far less energy for digestion from the person eating them, so the fermented foods are more restorative.
Probiotic and Prebiotics Values
Today, fermented and pickled foods are commonly referred to as sources of probiotics that support health and aid in digestion of other foods. When these foods are eaten in combination with whole grain, beans, and vegetables that contain prebiotics, they encourage beneficial intestinal flora to thrive. Developing and maintaining healthy intestinal balance prevents unhealthy bacteria and this is essential for overall well being.
It is important to choose the finest quality fermented and pickled foods from trusted sources such as EDEN. Today, many of these ancient health foods are made with cheap ingredients, refined salt and sugar, petrochemical derived white vinegar, artificial colors, GMOs, and chemical preservatives that severely diminish their value.
Traditional Health Food
Eden Foods offers eleven types of lacto-fermented foods including authentic, traditional sauerkraut, pickles, and vinegars made the artisan way without any untoward additives whatsoever. Most are certified pareve.
- EDEN Sauerkraut is authentically organic, exceptional sauerkraut. It is grown, fermented, and packed by a single family. Sweet organic cabbage is hand harvested, cored, shredded, and lactic acid fermented with EDEN sea salt. Over nine decades of experience, traditional methods, and one family's care from seedling to jar give this sauerkraut sought after character and potent beneficial qualities. New EDEN Kimchi Sauerkraut combines traditional Kimchi spices with the mellow savory flavor of old-world kraut. After EDEN Sauerkraut is fermented, all organic red bell peppers, onions, garlic, ginger root, cayenne pepper, yellow mustard seeds, and chili pepper are added. They impart sparkling Kimchi zest and a pretty red hue. It is perfect for sandwiches. New EDEN Three Onion Sauerkraut has all organic white onion, shallots, green onion (scallions), brown rice syrup, caraway and mustard seed, black pepper, and nutmeg for a mellow sweet, savory richness. A perfect side serving. For centuries sauerkraut has been a vital source of vitamin C and nutrition, especially during winter. It was common on long sea voyages and prevented scurvy until citrus fruits began to be used.
- EDEN Pickled Ginger is thinly sliced fresh ginger root with red shiso (beefsteak) leaves. Called ‘gari’ or ‘sushi ginger,’ it is always served with sushi, although it will brighten any meal and is a perfect palate cleaner. Toxic additives of many kinds are the norm in typical sushi restaurant pickled ginger, but EDEN pickled ginger is simply pure and purifying.
- EDEN Pickled Daikon Radish is from long, white daikon radish, sun-dried and pickled with rice bran and sea salt. High in diastase enzyme from fermentation that stimulates appetite and aids digestion. Photo essay
- EDEN Umeboshi are brine pickled ume plums, sun-dried, infused with red shiso (beefsteak) leaves, and then aged for a year. Excellent for sushi, rice balls, and corn on the cob, they impart a sour tartness to dressings, dips, and sauces. This Nanko variety has juicy pulp, delicious flavor, and high citric acid content. As the king of alkaline food, pickled ume plums are an ancient efficacious food used to balance and strengthen. They are valued as a digestive aid. EDEN Umeboshi Paste is pitted, pureed umeboshi. A citric sour condiment used in making sushi, dips, sauces, and salad dressings, or spread it onto corn on the cob.
- EDEN Organic Apple Cider and Red Wine Vinegar are raw and unpasteurized with mother of vinegar. Organic, sweet, smooth, and mellow Brown Rice Vinegar is made using a 1,000-year-old method, organic brown rice, and spring water fermented outdoors in earthenware crocks. Ume Plum Vinegar is the pickling brine from umeboshi plums with sea salt and red shiso (beefsteak leaf is used to flavor and preserve food).
These vinegars are authentic, traditionally fermented versions. They contain a variety of beneficial organic acids, bacteria, enzymes, and phytonutrients. Research is only beginning to shed light on why there is so much anecdotal evidence of vinegar's ability to promote overall health. EDEN vinegars are bottled in dark amber glass to protect flavor, nutrients, and beneficial character.
Easy to make Pickles and Pressed Salads
A variety of EDEN pickled and fermented food in the pantry is always a good idea and will be admirably appreciated by those you care to share them with. Use them as sides, a snack, a condiment, in salads, and in cooking.
EDEN Vinegars make quick and delicious homemade refrigerator pickles and refreshing Pressed Salads. All you need to do is add a bit of EDEN Sea Salt or organic fermented EDEN Shoyu soy sauce or Miso to make them.
Unlike other salads, pressed salads are made by pressing down the ingredients in a screw press, crock, or bowl. The pressure and salt bring out water content and soften the vegetables making them more delicious and easier to digest, while keeping their active, raw, living enzymes. Pressed salads are quick and easy to make. Vegetables are first thinly sliced to facilitate pressing and lightly salted. The pressing time is short; about one to four hours depending on what is used. The briney water is drained from the salad after pressing and before serving.
The flavor, character, and efficacy of a pressed salad can be whatever you want it to be simply by adjusting the vinegar type, and salt or shoyu percentages of the brine. High quality brine components and organic vegetables make a huge difference. Try some slices of fresh fruit and/or sea vegetables in a pressed salad. As you plate and serve the pressed salad, sprinkle on dried fruit and/or seeds and nuts. A salad press is a rewarding tool.
Pressed salads are appreciated during any season. They are easy on the stomach and easy to digest because of the balanced vinegar and salt combination.
Visit edenfoods.com for many free, quick and easy pickle and pressed salad recipes including Refrigerator Dill Pickles, Broccoli Pickles, Sauerkraut Pickles, Ume Red Radish Pickles, Pressed Salad with Dulse, etc.