Eating a small batch, all naturally preserved bread and butter pickle on toast with cheese is the impetus for today’s flavor. 

pickledfoodI got turned on to cheese and pickles sandwiches this summer while roving the English countryside for edible experiences. (you can read more about that on Bohemian Mojo...) Suffices to say that cheese and pickles became a fast favorite and on occasion, I have to recreate the experience in my own kitchen. Today was one of those occasions.  The combination of cheese and pickles is so amazing because it provides a hint of all the flavors plus the bonus of retro-nasal and delectable mouth-feel. The pickles are sweet, sour, a little bit bitter, salty, the cheese is smooth, creamy, umami, and the combination is seriously addicting.

Pickling is the process of preserving food with either brine or vinegar. It is a process of lacto-fermentation that, so long as it occurs without air, preserves the food item while inhibiting or destroying the potential for harmful bacteria. Pickling has been around for thousands of years in every culture.  Flavor is derived during the pickling process depending on what other herbs and spices are added to the mix. Although, simply adding salt and allowing the process imparts its own unique flavor, as with a simple sauerkraut recipe.

Pickled foods provide a variety of taste experiences. Sweet, savory, puckering! Fermented foods also can add a complimentary digestive boost, which makes them a great addition to any meal. Pickling food is actually pretty easy, for the most part it’s a matter of putting all the ingredients in an airtight container and waiting for them to do their thing. I love making sauerkraut and am now on a mission to pickle a variety of other things so they will be ready for summertime fun.

Medicinally, eating lacto-fermented foods is a bonus all the way around. Research suggests that eating ½ cup of fermented food a day increases immune function and helps in the battle against a number of flu viruses. (one research study with chickens and the avian flu demonstrated that the chickens being fed sauerkraut were immune to the avian flu virus despite having it introduced to their system).  Fermented foods also help balance the ph in your digestive tract and body, which in turn can contribute to a more balanced mood pattern. Naturally fermented foods can also help in the battle against systemic inflammation which is a major contributor of most illnesses and chronic ailments.

Caveat: Make sure you are eating naturally fermented, pickled foods. Most items in the supermarket have been pasteurized and the good stuff no longer exists in them. Opt for those in the refrigerator section, typically containing the world “raw” in them to signify they have not been pasteurized. Or better yet, get experimental and make your own!