Monday, 1 September 2014

throwing the baby out with the bathwater

It's the 1st of September and this is my 100th post.
Is this significant?
(If you're me - not particularly).
Or does the theory of coincidence rely on selectively noticing stuff, 
because you happened to notice something else the other day?
(If you're me - probably).
But sometimes the cosmic latticework does start to twitch,
and things that seem unrelated start to come together.

Okay - so I know you're thinking 
'Enough already with the pickling!!!'
I promise this is it for a while….
(fridge now groaning with fermented delights)*

I genuinely started all this pickling malarkey from the basis of:

  • grow cucumbers in hotbed at work every year
  • end up with so many that you can't even give them away
  • love brine pickled cukes
  • am expected to research/experiment with traditional food growing/storage techniques
  • pickle some - it's a no-brainer, right?
But as soon as I started reading up on what to do, I stumbled into the world of the new 'hottest thing in nutrition' - lacto-fermentation. This has nothing to do with dairy by the way, the 'lacto' bit refers to the lactobacillus which proliferate during the fermentation of the veggies. The finished products are alive, unlike the store bought ones, which have been pasteurised for shelf life at room temperature. This is pro-biotics but without the expensive branded yoghurt drinky things.

So far, so what?

I know - the last hottest thing was cupcakes and minted pea puree!

But there is a whole pile of research being done into links between gut health and immune responses - including out of control immune responses like allergies. Better brains than mine are applying themselves to this and I'm not saying that it's a retro fix if you've already got severe allergies. But it does seem to make sense that biodiversity is a good thing when it comes to your guts as well as your garden. Inclusion of bacteria rather than exclusion, especially in early life, is being preached

Now, I've always been in favour of what I would regard as a normal amount of sluttishness in the housekeeping department, and am a long time believer in 'Eat dirt, it's good for you!' (Having said that, I've just been scrubbing the crap off from round the back of the kitchen taps - but that's mostly displacement activity because I'm supposed to be filling in my tax return). Nobody wants to live in squalor, but maybe in our quest for a hyper-clean, pasteurised life we have thrown the baby out with the bathwater… of bathwater anyone?

* lacto-fermented radishes might just be my new favourite thing in the world ever. All the deep savouriness of a good runny cheese combined with a delicate vegetable pickle. Umami, huh? Who knew?


  1. My mum always said (and still does) that "you have to eat a peck of dirt before you die". Now, I am not entirely sure how much a peck is but I've probably exceeded it already, since I am by nature a slattern. And it's never done me any harm! I am always astonished about how finicky and over-scrupulous some people are.
    Good to know the pickling has been a great success, that the Asparagus Pea gut health is doing well, and your photos are fab, by the way! xxx

    1. Just looked up how much a peck is - about 9 litres! It's a quarter of a bushel, which is one of those big baskets for putting veg in to sell at the market! So well done you on the dirt eating front xxx

  2. Hello Bernice,

    We are absolutely with you on the 'a little dirt never hurt anyone' camp and do find that these days of hypo allergenic whatevers seem to be creating a nation of asthma sufferers and lots more besides. We are of the age when the 'sell by date' was still a figment of someone's imagination and we are still alive......well, the last time we looked we were.

    We think that your pickling endeavours are highly commendable and your jars of fermenting this and that look so very attractive. We are certain that your gut theory is sound but, for our part, the art of pickling is enough!

    1. Thank you Jane and Lance - i know you must be connoisseurs of the pickled vegetable living in Budapest!

  3. Interesting post Bernice. I have never really gone for pickled goods, but can appreciate the well being in this process. Now have you done your tax return yet? cheers Wendy

  4. Today - I promise I'm doing it today! Back to work tomorrow *sighs theatrically*

  5. Yep, if everyone needs to eat a peck of dirt they we all better get munching because it is a lot to get through isn't it!! Happy 100th post!!! xx

  6. I know pickled things are healthy; I just happen to not like them. I still eat healthy though - chocolate beet cake anyone?

  7. Congratulations on your 100th post. I can't speak about the cleanliness/allergies theory anecdotally as kiddo grew up on a farm with plenty of dirt/livestock/etc. and is the most allergic person I've ever met, but population wise, who knows? I'm sure he's eaten his share of dirt over the years.

    Aren't pickled radishes just about the prettiest vegetable?

  8. Holy cow do you have my head swirling with this one much to think about here. I have a little guy who has major food allergies (mainly nuts) and I am open to anything that can keep my little man on a healthy path in this life. Thank you for passing this one along...I am already cutting milk from his diet and keep him eating from the garden and digging in the garden for that matter. Now I have much more to read up on! Happy day to you...and Congrats on the 100 post lady!! Nicole xo