Pickles. You either love ’em or you hate ’em. In my house, everyone loves ’em. My daughter will literally come flying down the stairs first thing in the morning and grab the jar of pickles and eat them until I pry the cold glass jar from her hands. Its actually kind of gross (in my opinion).
But what exactly is in these pickles I was buying? Was there a way to give her her pickle fix and help her tummy at the same time (not just for her, but she was the catalyst for this pickle frenzy of mine).
You see, when my little girl – who is turning into a big girl rapidly in front of my eyes – was just two years old, she got sick. Really sick. Hospital bed IV antibiotics and surgery kind of sick. Gratefully we were able to get her the help she needed to get better, and it is but a distant memory. But in order to save her little life her tiny body was flooded with high octane antibiotics. Antibiotics take care of the bad bacteria, but unfortunately also can do a number on killing off the good bacteria. Your tummy is full of it, and it needs to be.
On top of that, she was a c-section baby.
Why does that matter you ask?
When a baby is born it passes through the woman’s birth canal into the light of day and on the way out it is perfectly populated with millions of bacteria which for the base for the child’s immune system, among other things. C-section babies don’t get that opportunity and are instead populated with bacteria from their environment which is a bit different. Studies are being done to look into these different types of scenarios and the effect they have on overall health and it is research worth keeping an eye on for sure.
All I know is that 80% of the immune system is in your gut (I know I say that all the time, it is probably my all time favorite food nerd factoid). For me, and my little girl, it is enough information for me to make an effort to rebuild the inside of her belly.
Cue the pickle conversation, and a little research, and we end up with this awesome yummy healthy recipe for fermented pickles. She eats these pickles by the jar full (I still have to pry the jar out of her hands) but at least I know she is getting something health promoting out of her food. By fermenting the cucumbers naturally you are essentially creating a probiotic rich food – among other things.
For real. Google it. 🙂
So here is the deal. Get a hold of some of those small cucumbers, a mason jar, water, sea salt, garlic cloves, dill, grape leaves and any other spices you may want to add.You could add in some hot peppers (thanks for the suggestion, Denise!) or some lemon rind. Try this basic recipe first and then tweak it to suit your taste.
Throw everything into a mason jar and cover with a dish towel or some cheesecloth and place it in a dark corner for 3-5 days. Taste the pickles after a few days, when you like the amount of fermentation and flavor you can go ahead and move them to the fridge and put the regular lid on the jar. They will keep for a week or two depending on how fresh your other ingredients are.