We had experienced severe food shortage after the World War II. Just to survive, we had to find anything that could be converted to food and preserve them throughout the year.
Our main idea was to preserve most foods as “pickle”, which was the simplest and easiest to do back then. Pickling was inherited since thousands of years ago from China and Korea.
Radish with its leaf, Napa cabbage, ginger, gourd, and many other vegetables were converted to pickles to preserve throughout the year. I remember that the process in making pickles was entirely a family work whenever we harvest vegetables from our small garden and along the vacant lots nearby our shanty.
We did not have enough fish and meat so we didn't have adequate protein in our meals. Despite that, we managed to survive and grow up. When I grew up, I realized how healthy that pickles we have been consuming every day can be.
In a nutshell, the idea of pickling is to create an environment that is inhospitable to the microbes and enzymes that would normally cause food to decay—as well to prevent the growth of micro-organisms that could make you sick. This is usually done using a combination of salt, acid, and/or fermentation with friendly lactobacillus bacteria. Spices, oil, or sugar can also be added to enhance the flavor.
Health Benefits of Pickles
Today, most Japanese enjoy eating a variety of pickles in every meal. We always have nearly ten kinds of pickles on our dining table kimchi, plum, cabbage, spinach, cucumber, radish, carrot leaf, saltfish, sweetened shellfish, and many others. We do not feel that the meal is complete without pickles.
Keith writes with a question about pickles and whether they are good for you and can be a good source of nutrition.
Are Pickles Good for You?
Pickling is a time-honored way of preserving foods for an extended period of time without refrigeration. Traditionally, it was used to ensure a food supply during times when fresh food would be unavailable, such as over the winter or on a long voyage.  You can pickle just about anything: fruits, vegetables, even meat and fish.
What are the Health Benefits of Vinegar?
In traditionally fermented pickles, the sour taste is the result of natural acids that are produced by the bacteria during fermentation.  Other methods skip the fermentation and use vinegar instead. Vinegar has some unique benefits of its own.
  • The claim that vinegar helps you burn fat is true, but only on a technicality.  The acetic acid in vinegar can increase your fat-burning metabolism. But, as I discussed in a previous article, this effect is so small that it is unlikely to translate into any noticeable fat loss. However, adding vinegar to a meal can have a noticeable effect on your blood sugar levels. The acids in vinegar slow the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, which is generally a good thing.
  • There are huge varieties of pickles in China, Korea, and Japan alone. Nutritional values of fermented foods multiply dramatically as you can see it with cow's milk. Yes, milk fermented by bacteria turns to “yogurt”, which produces lactic acid bacteria and intestinal “bifidobacteria”, meaning yogurt maintains and protect the intestinal health. Milk can also be turned to cheese by fermentation.
  • Bifidobacteria is a beneficial bacterium that lives in the colon, and is effective for diarrhea and constipation, which is common in women. It also boosts the immune system of the body to help prevent and treat diseases including certain cancer. Bifidobacteria is also said to have beauty and anti-aging effect.
  • Yogurt is high in calcium and protein, and can be eaten by people who are fairly lactose-intolerant, because the lactose in the milk is converted to lactic acid by the bacterial culture. Yogurt is common in macrobiotic diet.
  • Many people eat yogurt for breakfast, but the bifidobacteria cannot survive stomach acid especially when hungry where there's a high concentration of gastric acid. Therefore, the most effective time to eat yogurt is after the meal. If you eat yogurt at the same time with your meal, your stomach will produce more gastric acid that will destroy the beneficial bacteria in yogurt.
  • Most vegetables including some fishes and animal meat could be processed and fermented just like milk (yogurt). Take the case of pickles in the photos above. All of them have similar effects of yogurt, especially with kimchi, which has a reputation in aiding digestion.
  • In the case of tomato, even without fermentation, there is an Italian proverb that says, “When tomatoes become red, doctors become blue”. This means that fewer people get sick when tomatoes ripen, and that therefore doctors have less work.
  • Let us make pickles. Anyone can do it.
  • You can acquire a strength like Samson by eating pickles, and if you can be treated with the PYRO-ENERGEN. That's how and what the PYRO-ENERGEN groups are now.
Pickle with every meal – good or bad?
pickles - good or bad.Pickle or achaar has been a part and parcel of the Indian diet. It is not uncommon to have a dollop of seasonal pickle of different kinds with every meal. The simultaneous amalgamation of sweet, spice and sour flavours in one’s mouth is a foodie’s delight and the art of getting the food notes right has been perfected and passed on from one generation to the other. But is this habit taking a toll on your health? Is shunning the pickle a better alternative? We seek answers for the same from well-known nutritionist Neha Chandna.
According to Neha, pickles are a great accompaniment to pep up your entire meal but one needs to understand that pickles are generally high in oil, salt and sugar content along with spices. So, it is not a great idea to include it with every meal. While a normal, healthy person can have one teaspoon of pickle every day, a person with health issues should restrict it to 1-2 times per week.
Keep the pickle habit under check
Pickle should be especially avoided by people who are obese and those with high blood pressure as it has high salt content which increase BP and cholesterol levels. It also increases triglycerides due to its high oil content. Diabetics should avoid it due to its high sugar content. People who have digestion issues like acidity, gastritis, etc should also refrain from eating pickles. (Read: How to choose the right cooking oil?)
Tips to keep in mind
Try selecting pickles with vegetables like carrots, beet, amla, etc. You can opt for dry pickles rather than oily ones. You can check the label for the oil and salt content before buying it. (Read: Why is amla so great for you)
Home-made pickle is better as you can control the amount of oil and spices added to it. You can make a variety of healthy pickles using vegetables and fruits.
Even though pickles are tasty, the high oil and salt content work as preservatives for them to last longer. If you are looking for a healthy version, you can try making water-based or pickles with lesser quantities of oil which may not last for a year but will be healthier as they will have fresh, seasonal veggies and also less oil and salt.
Mixed vegetable water pickle
This pickle is quite popular in Delhi during the winter months. It is an assortment of fresh winter vegetables, fresh green garlic in tangy mustard flavoured water and special winter carrots to that give the water a rich colour. It has only 1 tablespoon of salt content and absolutely no oil making it quite healthy. You can store it for up to one month if you refrigerate it.
Instant lemon pickle
It takes minutes to prepare this pickle rather than days which is usually the case. It has castor sugar and no oil and the salt quantity is less too. Once ready, this pickle can be stored up to three months in the refrigerator. (Read: Lemon and its health benefits)
So this winter season, enjoy pickles without compromising on your health or on the taste.
How Are Modern Pickles Made?
In the days of modern food processing, of course, we have other ways of keeping food from spoiling, such as refrigeration and pasteurization.  Indeed, most of the pickles sold these days in grocery stores actually rely on pasteurization and/or refrigeration to preserve the food. Salt and vinegar are still used, but mostly for flavor.
Are Pickles Nutritious?
The claim that vinegar helps you burn fat is technically true, but the effect is so small that it is unlikely to translate into any noticeable fat loss.
As for how nutritious pickles are, it depends on what you’re pickling and the method you use. Keith, who lives in Japan, is in luck.  Traditional Asian pickles are probably the most nutritious kind of pickle. First of all, they start with cabbage, radishes, peppers, and other super-nutritious vegetables. The raw veggies are then packed with salt or a brining solution and allowed to ferment at room temperature.  Fresh sauerkraut, native to Germany and Eastern Europe, is another example of a traditionally fermented vegetable.
No heat is involved in the production of traditionally fermented pickles and that helps preserve the nutrients in the vegetables.  In fact, the fermentation process actually adds valuable nutrients.  The lactobacillus bacteria that cause the fermentation produce B vitamins and also act as probiotics that help keep your digestive tract healthy.
Pickles and Salt
The only potential downside to traditionally fermented pickles is the salt content. Again, the salt is key to promoting fermentation and suppressing harmful bacteria. If you’re trying to limit your sodium intake, you’d want to keep that in mind.  Other than that, however, traditional fermented pickles are a nutritious alternative to fresh vegetables.
Do Pickles Count as a Vegetable?
The sweet cucumber pickles you typically encounter here in the U.S., on the other hand, are probably among the least nutritious type of pickles. Cucumbers aren’t terribly nutritious vegetables to begin with. Boiling them in sugar syrup, packing them in jars, and then heat-treating the jars to pasteurize them doesn’t exactly improve their nutritional profile. In fact, given the sugar, the salt, and the lack of any meaningful nutritional value, I’d be reluctant to let you count sweet pickles as one of your servings of vegetables. Dill pickles wouldn’t be high in nutrition, either, but at least would be lower in sugar.
See also: Why is Sugar Bad?
Pickled carrots, cauliflower, green beans, or combinations of pickled vegetables—sometimes called chow chow or giardiniera—would fall somewhere in between traditionally fermented pickles like Kim-chi or sauerkraut and the standard American bread-and-butter pickle.
One the one hand, they are usually heat-processed, which involves some nutrient losses, and you wouldn’t get the benefits of probiotic bacteria. On the other hand, they’re made from nutritious vegetables and usually without as much added sugar. I’d count them as a serving of vegetables. But again, you’d want to be mindful of the sodium.
See Also: How to Get More Vegetables into Your Diet and How Cooking Affects Nutritients
How to Make Your Own Pickles
Lately, there’s been a revival of interest in the traditional arts of pickling, canning, and fermenting.  If you’re interested in learning more about how to make your own pickles, I’ve included some links below to resources for you to explore.
Health Benefits of Kosher Pickles?
Kosher pickles are made from small cucumbers known as gherkins. Made in the traditional Jewish manner using dill, garlic and salt brine to give the characteristic mouth-puckering, sour, pungent flavor, Kosher dills have few calories and few nutrients, unless you eat them by the barrel full. Kosher dills do add spice to sandwiches and meat dishes such as the German dish Rouladen, which wraps beef around a dill pickle.
A single small Kosher dill pickle contains only 5 calories, most of which come from carbohydrates. It would take 20 before you even reached 100 calories, which is just 5 percent of your daily calorie intake. The protein content in a dill pickle is just 0.22 g while the fat content is even lower, 0.05 g. The carbohydrate count is 0.96 g. The main sugar in the pickle is glucose, with the rest coming from fructose. Kosher dills are low in fat, with just 0.13 g per pickle.
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