Tag Archives: beets

Pickling

Sauerkraut

My first ferment - a nice sauerkraut with purple cabbage

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a seminar entitled, “Yes We Can (and Pickle).” In addition to the fairly funny title, the event, put on by Avodah and AJWS, was devoted to food awareness. One of the workshops I went to was, not surprisingly, about pickling. I did not realize how much I didn’t know.

So let’s start with the basis. Pickling is a process used to preserve foods, such a cucumbers, by removing “bad” bacteria that rot food. It has been used for centuries to preserve food reaped in the warm months (before the times of refrigerators). Most cultures have their own variety  using different food (kimchi, miso, and sauerkraut, for example). Many pickles are made via “quick fermenting,” during which vinegar is added. The vinegar kills all the bacteria. However, there are good bacteria, which aid in the digestion process, making them preferable to keep. The better way, in my humble opinion, is to use just water and salt, which accomplishes the same thing. Here, the yeast in the air ferments the sugars and kills off only the “bad bacteria,” leaving the good stuff

I spent last week in New York City. New York is known for many things, but pizza and delis are for sure on the top of the list. I definitely did not leave being deprived in either category. But when I was walking in the streets, I was reminded also of the pickle’s Lower East Side historical roots, as I was found stands with dozens of different types of pickles. Possibly a hallmark of Jewish delis, the kosher dill arose during the 1800s. Everyone around the U.S. knows the kosher dill, and I have even seen them in supermarkets in the deep South. Today, ironically, kosher dills are not necessarily kosher, but rather only refer to the particular recipe with the generous amount of garlic in the brine, though the historical name still remains.

So why bother pickling? Here are three reasons: (1) It is really fun – it’s sort of like a science experiment. (2) They are tasty. (3) The bacteria in fermented pickles (ie, not the ones with vinegar) have probiotics, which are good for you.

So here’s the recipe…

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Filed under Cured and Pickled, Deli, Fruit and Vegtables, Jewish, Kashrut, Parve

Beets

golden beets

golden beets

Borscht (beet soup), beet salad, and pickled beets are classic Ashkenazi dishes but in order to make these you need to start with simple cooked beets. I personally love beets and really love them roasted. I tend to believe that people who claim not to like beets (I’m talking to you, Mr. President) have only had the canned, rubbery, disgusting version. I used to be one of those people, then one day I stopped at my sister’s and she was eating beets for lunch. As a young adult I made a point of re-tasting foods I didn’t like as a kid because 9 times out of 10 I would discover I liked them.  My sis offered me a bite of her beets and I was hooked. They were sweet, and soft but with a slight firmness, and not a rubbery bit in sight. I immediately bought some at my local farmers market, brought them home and realized I had no idea how to cook them. I threw them in the oven at what turned out to be no where near enough time, got frustrated and didn’t attempt them again for several years. By this time I had learned to text, and Gordon came to my rescue. I believe the entire response text was “350 about an hour then peel” and that pretty well sums it up. Lately I’ve fallen in love with the golden variety, that my local Whole Foods always has. They are a subtler flavor and you don’t have to deal with the red juice staining everything.

More after the jump

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Filed under Fruit and Vegtables