Our friends at RAD (Real Athlete Diets) in Boulder are all about good food for ensuring great performance. They are big fans of pickled veggies and other foods, for a number of reasons. They shared their ideas with us, to share with you:
The health benefits of fermented and pickled foods are undeniable.
Your gut health is affected by intestinal flora, but did you know your immune and nervous systems can also be thrown off balance when things are out of order? Humans have the same amount of neurotransmitters in our stomachs as we do our brains. There is also 10 times more gut bacteria than the number of cells in the entire body. So, here's the deal, the naturally occurring probiotics in unpasteurized fermented foods can help rebalance your good bacteria and eliminate bloat, discomfort, headaches, diarrhea and fatigue to name a few.
So, let's get pickling!
This, right now, is a great time of year to start pickling for the winter.
We - that's us at RAD (Real Athlete Diets) in Boulder - think all veggies taste great pickled, but go for items that are not starting to get soft or wilt and your end product will have a greater crunch. We love carrots, beets, green beans, cucumber. We even pickle chickpeas. Hard boiled eggs and thick cut bacon together is a mind blowing experience. We promise.
Removing stems and ends before pickling veg is key as enzymes in both can lead to mushy product. Rinse all of your vegetables with cold water to make sure they are clean first. We get most everything from farms, so there's always plenty of dirt <3
Making the brine: without a proper brine, your vegetables will never become pickled. Having the proper ratio of vinegar, salt, sugar, and water. This ratio is a great standard for most anything you would like to pickle: Bring 2 cups vinegar, 1/4 cup kosher salt, 1/4 cup sugar, up to 1/4 cup spices (e.g., peppercorns, coriander seeds, and/or mustard seeds), and 4 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. Pour over vegetables in jars. Wipe dry and put lids on tightly.
*Depending on the size of your jars, you may need more or less of the brine. You can always leave excess in the fridge and use later.
You can mix your vinegars! Don't be afraid to use a combination of a couple.
We use maple syrup or organic cane sugar.
We prefer kosher salt as it is flat and dissolves easily.
Add fresh herbs, fennel, ginger and whole garlic to add more flavor.
Add dried spices for long lasting boost and a little heat: mustard seeds, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes.
Make certain your jars/lids are sanitized.
Make sure you are filling well and not leaving too much room for air.
Use raw vegetables, not cooked and things will stay crisp.