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Health foods of the month -
Pickled Vegetables

January 2014

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Diet & Supplements Index







Pickling is a great way to preserve an abundance of summer and autumn vegetables for seasons when fresh produce is less available. It is thought to have begun around 4000 years ago using cucumbers in India.  It was very popular for sailors, who used salt to preserve port and beef for their long trips at sea.

Today pickling is still popular for people who like to preserve their own produce and also because pickling gives a unique taste and flavour that many people love.

Whether you buy commercial pickled vegetables, or make your own, a key aspect is that fresh vegetables are used so that they keep their crunchiness. That is a good start because you know they will have been packed with maximum nutrients before the pickling process begins.

The aim of pickling is to create an environment that will stop or at least diminish the growth of the microbes and enzymes that normally cause food to decay. This can be done using a combination of various items perhaps including salt, acids such as vinegar or cider vinegar and some spices, oil or even sugar to enhance flavour.

There are lots of different ways to pickle vegetables, but a general method is to blanch the vegetables in boiling water, and then cool and put into clean jars. This short cooking preserves not only their colour and texture but also their nutrients.  Then the pickling brine is poured on top.

Generally this method means the vegetables retain much of their original goodness. Fat soluble vitamins, such as A, D, E and K are retained during normal pickling and in fact, the nutritional value of food can actually be improved by introducing B vitamins produced by bacteria.

Some of the herbs and spices added to pickled vegetables can also be useful, for instance, mustard seed, garlic, cinnamon and cloves have antimicrobial properties.

The only real downside to pickled vegetables is the salt content. This varies from recipe and product, but is worth keeping an eye on.

Other than that, traditionally pickled vegetables can make a nutritious and tasty addition to winter menus.



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