As we all know how breathing outside, in different natural environments, can contribute important diversity to your gut microbiome and promote gut health, we also know that for millennia, cultures around the world have used fermentation to preserve foods and to promote gut health as well. In keeping with our Outside Summer theme for the RESTORE newsletter, here is a simple fermented food recipe from the RESTORE Team! Share it with your friends and family at your next outside gathering, and help everyone have a healthier gut. Enjoy!

Zach Bush MD
Founder and CEO of Biomic Sciences, LLC, producer of the RESTORE supplement product line.

Spicy Szechuan Sunchoke Pickles

Jerusalem artichokes or “sunchokes” are not actually an artichoke at all, but a tuber that can be eaten raw or cooked.  Raw they have a similar texture to and are a great substitute for water chestnut.  They are a “close to the wild” food with the kind of vigor that can colonize your whole garden if not contained, so plant with care!  They are a rich source of the prebiotic inulin, food for healthy bacteria.  One of the special things about these fermented pickles is how crunchy they are.  If you like a spicy pickle you can add a couple of hot peppers to the brine, and if you want to go Szechuan style, add a tablespoon of Szechuan peppercorns, for the “hot and numbing” effect.

There are a lot of advantages to going with smaller size batches if you are new to fermentation.  You can fine tune and experiment more, and if something goes awry, it is only one jar and not a gallon-size crock.  Fermented vegetables are meant to be a condiment, not a main course!

You will need a wide-mouth quart jar and a small jar that fits inside it, a pound of sunchokes, sea salt, small hot peppers, and Szechuan peppercorns.

  1. Wash the sunchokes and cube them into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Place them in a one-quart wide-mouth jar.
  3. Add two to four hot peppers, dried or fresh, and a Tablespoon of Szechuan peppercorns (optional).
  4. Cover the vegetables in brine.  The basic brine is simply two Tablespoons of salt (preferably non-iodized salt, such as Celtic sea salt or Himalayan pink salt) dissolved in one quart of pure water.
  5. Next, fill the smaller jar with water and set it inside the large jar to keep the vegetables submerged under the brine.
  6. Keep the culture in an inconspicuous place in your kitchen where you can keep an eye on it. You may want to place a piece of cheesecloth over the top to keep out those summer fruit flies. The pickles will be ready to enjoy in one week or anytime thereafter.

Fermented vegetables should keep well for at least four months in the refrigerator. A 2-percent salted version should keep well in a dark, cool area such as a root cellar for at least three months, if the vegetables are kept submerged under liquid, according to an article in Food Safety News.

This article emphasizes the importance of basic food safety practices, such as washing your hands, utensils, surfaces, and containers.