Are Pickles Fermented? Are they rich in the probiotics that you know you need for optimal health? The answer to this is not a simple one. Yes, pickles can be fermented, supplying your body with a boost of nutrients and good bacteria, but where the confusion lies is that most pickles, the ones you usually find in stores are not fermented and do not have any of the health benefits of fermentation. It’s time to know the difference so that you can make the right choice for your health.
Canned Pickle Environment
When you can pickles, you submerge the sliced or speared cucumbers in a brine. This brine is made of vinegar, water, salt and any spices or herbs that you may choose to use. The purpose of a brine is to preserve the pickles by creating an acidic environment that bad bacteria, yeast, mold an other contaminants don’t like.
Fermented Pickle Environment
When you ferment pickles, you have a slightly different environment. You also make a brine, but it contains water, salt, spices and herbs. These are combined in a mason jar from which you remove the oxygen and store it in a place that is neither too hot nor too cold so that probiotics can grow and multiply.
The Canned Pickle Process
This is not intended to explain the full process, but very generally, after you submerge your pickles in the brine, you seal the jar and then bring the contents to a boil in a canning vat. This kills any bacteria or other contaminants, including unfortunately any probiotics who cannot survive at these temperatures. When the jar cools, a seal develops. This seal is what makes it difficult to open jars that have not been opened. Once cooled, the jar is placed in the refrigerator or, because it is sealed, can be left at room temperature in a dark place.
The Fermented Pickle Process
The process for fermenting pickles is very different indeed. The pickles are submerged in the brine, but, after that, everything changes. You will place an Easy Fermenter lid on the jar that vacuums out the oxygen, but allows the carbon dioxide that is produced by the fermentation process to escape. You then place the jar in a cool dark place for about 7 days. Because the lid keeps the environment perfect for probiotics to multiply and flourish, all you really have to do is be patient and then you have tasty, probiotic-rich pickles to share with your family. Fermented pickles, are stored in the refrigerator or can be stored in a cellar for a more limited time. In the instance of both pickled and canned, this process preserves the pickles, so that they can be enjoyed long after they are picked from the plant.
So which is better for your health?
This depends on what health benefits you hope to achieve from your pickles. There are some health benefits to both types of pickles.
Canned Pickle Benefits
The vinegar in pickles has been shown through significant scientific research to help regulate blood sugar. When blood sugar spikes and drops, this leads to craving and usually bad food choices and weight gain. So if something helps keep blood sugar more stable, you can more easily control your energy levels.
Fermented Pickle Benefits
Only when pickles are fermented do they retain any probiotics. Probiotics have also been thoroughly researched in independent studies. Because the brine is never brought to a boil, those probiotics thrive and multiply to up to 1000 times more live bacteria per serving than you could get in a pill or other supplement. Probiotics have been shown to improve digestion, boost the immune system, improve skin, reduce inflammation throughout the body in addition to being rich in B12 which improves mood and energy and K which is good for your heart, bones and helps insulin work more effectively to regulate blood sugar. This means that fermented pickles have all of the benefits of canned pickles plus a whole lot more. So, to answer the question, which is better for your health? We’ll have to go with fermented pickles.
Are you ready to start enjoying probiotic-rich fermented pickles? Here is a great recipe to help you get started and visit our website to learn more about making probiotic-rich fermented foods the easy way.