Fermented Foods

Giardiniera

giardiniera

 

I’ve been watching a cooking show on the Food Network called “Giada in Italy,” in which Giada De Laurentis is visitis the Amfali Coast to learn about her family and local foods. I’ve been learning charming things about Italy. One day she told us about how one village grew tomatoes because it was more inland and warmer while the next village made pasta because they had seaside breezes to dry the pasta hanging on rooftops. The two villages would trade and everyone had pasta with tomato sauce.

A few weeks ago, Giada made a big sandwich that contained giardiniera in a jar. She told us that traditionally giardiniera is served at the beginning of Italian dinners.

Well that made sense to me because I knew that even though giardiniera is now made with vinegar—like pickles—originally it was a fermented food.

The word giardiniera is Italian for “from the garden.” Originally, it was made from whatever vegetables were left in the garden at the end of the harvest. So it’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I can see that over time, homemakers didn’t wait for the end of the season, but made it with whatever leftover or seasonally abundant vegetables they had on hand.

Having made Garlic Dill Brine PicklesI am becoming accustomed to simple fermentation, and eating home fermented vegetables instead of commercial probiotics. And that’s probably why it’s traditional to serve giardiniera at the beginning of Italian dinners—to populate the gut with microgranisms needed for good digestion. We can do the same.

Pickles are great for summertime, when cucumbers are available and affordable, but now that it’s autumn, I wanted to shift to seasonal vegetables, Thus giardiniera. I used colorful rainbow carrots, celery, onions, red bell pepper, and garlic.

The vegetables smelled so fresh and delicious as I chopped them. And I used the whole vegetable. The chopped vegetables went into the giardiniera bowl and the trimmings went into a soup pot to make a vegetable broth, which now is lentil soup. No waste here. I got every bit of nutrition from these vegetables.

After fermenting the giardiniera for four days it is…oh so delicious! I just took the vegetables out of the ferment and I’m just sitting here eating them as I’m typing. The vegetables themselves are a bit mellower but with a pickle-like crunch and an aliveness from the fermentation. I’m even drinking the brine, which is full of nutrition. Oh yum!

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Garlic Dill Brine Pickles

pickles-done

 

pickles-bowl1Now that it’s getting to be summer, I’ve been thinking it’s time to make pickles! And, lo-and-behold, there were pickling cucumbers in my local natural food store. And fresh dill!

These pickles are very simple to make, and very fresh because they are completely raw. Most pickles nowadays are made with hot vinegar poured over the vegetables—which cooks them—but brine pickles are made the old slow way with fermentation breaking down and preserving the vegetables.

Fermented brine pickles are also supercharged with enzymes that aid digestion. They contain the natural full spectrum probiotics of the place where you live and make your pickles.

I love these crunchy garlic dill cucumber pickles.

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