You pickle, me pickle, we pickle!
At SUSAN BIJL we are in love with the pickled red onions by Monique, who prepares our lunch three times a week. We are also a little bit in love with Monique, but more on that another time. Back to pickling!
Pickling is a traditional way to preserve food. It would stimulate your appetite and digestion and strengthen your gut. Monique uses a ‘pickle press’. The pressing part of ‘press pickling’ helps to break down difficult-to-digest fibres faster. The cell structure is broken down and therefore more digestible than raw vegetables.
In more detail: during the fermentation process, enzymes and bacteria in pickled foods convert the sugars into lactic acid. Lactic acid strengthens the intestinal flora, which makes the digested nutrients available in the blood.
In general, pickling vegetables is a wonderful way to preserve foods long term as the beneficial vitamins and minerals stay intact and enhance the taste of the food preserved. Pickling with long-term preservation in mind needs a certain amount of salt.
The ‘fast pickling method’ that Monique uses for her red onions is necessary for the popular demand at our office but has a shorter shelf life. Many people know the gherkin; the strongly spiced cucumber pickle. But many hard vegetables work really well―cabbage, olives, radishes, carrots, green beans, asparagus, and onions! Besides salt, pickles can ripen in tamari, shoyu, miso, bran and various other products.
Monique uses Ume Su, a Japanese plum vinegar made from the umeboshi. To the eye, umeboshi looks like no more than a red plum, but it’s actually a very delicate fruit. The Japanese pick them from the Ume tree. The plums are pickled with salt and wrapped in Shiso leaves. After six months they reach a fermented state. The plums have developed a special combination of enzymes and bacteria, creating great health. For more into, check out our very first blog ever on this subject!
For 1 kilo of red onions use 100ml liquid.
The liquid consists of 1 part Ume Su and 1 part water (a little bit more Ume Su than water).
Generally, Monique makes a batch of around 500g of red onions, finely sliced.
Add the onions to a pickle press and cover them with 50ml of the mixed liquid.
Additionally, you can add 1 teaspoon of dried hibiscus, to preserve the colour of the red onion. Because of the Ume Su, you don’t need to add any salt.
In the pickle press, the onions can be eaten after one hour or max 24 hours later.You can store the onions in an air-tied container in the fridge for up to a week (smell if you’re in doubt!). Make sure the onions are always covered in a layer of liquid.