Results tagged “gherkins”

Lacto-fermented cucumbers

Lacto-fermenting is another way of pickling.  Instead of using vinegar, you use a salt solution and wait for some special (naturally existing) bacteria to work their magic.  The gherkins retain more of their vitamins and there are other health benefits too.  More importantly, they don’t have that overpowering vinegary tang and taste delicious.

smgherkins0007.JPGHere’s the science bit:  The salt solution favours the proliferation of lactic acid bacteria.  These bacteria (of which there are many species) ferment carbohydrates into lactic acid, carbon dioxide and other organic acids without the need for oxygen.  This turns the solution acidic and replaces the air at the top of the jar with carbon dioxide gas.  So, other (unwanted) bacteria will now not be able to reproduce. 

American recipe books will contain warnings, or not include this method of preserving at all.  But this kind of fermentation has been used across the world for centuries.  We came across plenty of food preserved this way on our culinary travels in 2008:  In Poland we loved the big barrels of gherkins and cabbage (ie sauerkraut); in Turkey we ate and drank yoghurt with everything we could; in Morocco our chicken tagines came with preserved lemons; in Mali we drank lots of millet beer; and in Ghana we filled up on fufu (fermented cassava and unripe plantain, pounded to a sticky stodge).



Culinary Anthropologist