The Tao of pickles

Treat your intestines to some bacteria today.

Elbrich Fennema | March 2009 issue
Over a period of months or years, our food is shaped by the sun, wind and precipitation. Then as soon as we eat a meal, our intestines go about the arduous task of breaking it down so everything in it can be absorbed by our bodies. They sort out which components are allowed to stay and which aren’t. This determines how we feel later, as well as what we accomplish and even what we think. Our intestines’ essential allies in this process are millions of bacteria that help break down our food. We can help our intestines if we occasionally give them something that has already undergone a degree of bacterial conversion: fermented food. Or better yet, food that still contains live fermentation bacteria, such as pickles. A word of caution, however: Pickled food from a jar or can, like gherkins or sauerkraut, are usually pasteurized and no longer contain fermentation bacteria.
Thankfully, pickles are easy to make. Slice a cucumber and toss into a bowl with half a head of Chinese cabbage, thinly sliced. Sprinkle with salt and mix until the vegetables become damp. Add a dash of vinegar, then put a dish on the bowl, placing something heavy on top, such as a large bottle of water. Allow to sit for a day or two. Rinse the mixture if it’s too salty. Add these pickled vegetables to salad or serve as a side dish with beans, grains or a curry.

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