So... this falls a bit outside what our ancestors might have done, but it's pretty great. A friend of mine teaches pickling classes at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, and she recently taught me how to make Japanese nuka pickles. It's a really good use of the stuff they mill off brown rice to make white rice, and it preserves vegetables in a really unique way.
The site is here:
Essentially, you buy some nuka (at a Japanese market or online). It looks like a bag of brown powder or sand. It's cheap, about $3 for all you need. You add dried soy beans, some garlic cloves, some salt, water, a chunk of ginger and a strip of seaweed. You mix it up, toss it in a gallon or half gallon Bell jar, and add in a cabbage leaf to get it started. Change the leaf every day for about 2 weeks. The nuka bed is mixed daily by hand. From there, you drop in pretty much any vegetable and in a few weeks it's pickled with amazing flavor.
The coolest part of this is that the microbes that are natural to your skin actually flavor the nuka. Meaning that your nuka pickles taste different than any one else's. In Japan apparently it's common to hand down a nuka bed from generation to generation, with many families having beds well over 100 years old. The downside is that if you go on vacation, you need to have a nuka-minder, who turns your bed every day. It's like having a pet in that regard, but at least you don't have to clean up after it.
If you're interested in pickling with much less sodium than brine uses, check it out.
Last edited by bpm; 05-07-2010 at 03:10 PM.
Wait? how does your skin effect the flavor??
You have a vast microbe colony living on your skin. Of course, that doesn't begin to match the microbes that live inside you.
There are many articles you can check out, but here's one that begins to explain:
CSI might just have another forensic tool to supplement their super-sleek glass and steel science lab: the bacteria on our hands. A group of researchers at University of Colorado Boulder have conducted a proof-of-concept study in which they were able to accurately identify people using samples of bacteria collected from their computer keyboards and mouses.
As it turns out, even the most obsessive-compulsive among us carry about 150 species of bacteria around on our hands, and those bacteria in turn carry a genome unique to that person. Those bacteria could potentially become a damning forensic tool at crime scenes, allowing investigators to gather DNA information unique to a perpetrator even without recovering any of that person's actual DNA.