Thursday, March 27, 2014

Fermented Radish Pickles

Another of my secret loves is naturally fermented pickles. I love dill pickles, pickled beets, kimchee, tsukemono, and most other pickled foods save for pickled meats. There are many health benefits from eating vegetables pickled through lacto-fermentation, too, (think probiotics and healthy bellies) and these pickles fit the bill. I was also told that once you've mastered this concept, you can use almost any vegetable. Now, local people generally make these during the cooler months because it is a slower, easier to control process, but they work just fine anytime that you have sun. Different people will tell you different things to add, too, but these are just right for my taste and that of my children.

Fermented Radish Pickles
1 kg (or 2.2 lbs) daikon radish, peeled
1 cup mustard oil (probably won't use all of it)
4 Tablespoons mustard seed
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon red chili (or cayenne) powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

Once you have peeled the radish, cut the radish into small rectangular sticks about 2" long and 1/2" wide. Lay them on a tray and place in the sun with a light cloth on top to keep dust and bugs away. They need to dehydrate until they feel somewhat bendy, not dehydrated. You can also do this in your oven in a couple hours at low temp with the door open. The key is to get some of the water out, but not all. Once your radishes are sufficiently "bendy," place them in a large bowl. Pulse the mustard seeds, 1/4 cup of the oil, salt, chili powder, and turmeric in a blender until you have a nice paste. I used a mortar and pestle this time to crush the seeds then mixed the rest in the bowl. Place all the ingredients in the bowl with the radish and rub so that the radishes get evenly coated. Add another 1/4 cup of oil and mix together. In a sterile jar or plastic container, pack the radish down into the jar(s), trying to avoid big air pockets at the bottom. Using a wooden spoon handle, you can really pack the mixture in well. Pour a little more oil on top of the jar so that all the radish is under oil. This prevents mold growth on top. Close the lid, and keep in a sunny, warm spot for 5-7 days before opening to check if they've reached the desired level of pickling. If not, let them stay in the sun a few more days before checking again.

I like mine on the tart side so I lean more toward the 7+ day mark. In colder winter months, you'll need to let them sit up to a month, but at least 2 weeks. They will continue fermenting after you take them from the sun so when they reach your desired level of sourness, start storing them in the fridge to slow further fermentation. These are sooo good with rice and lentils!

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