I loves me a good dill pickle, canned with vinegar. But my inner Moishe gets all excited when I come across the original Yiddishe pickle, out of a barrel and with nary an added souring agent in sight, the way my grandmother used to make it. And there’s of course the additional benefit that mentioning lacto-acid fermentation in a room full of foodies is the equivalent of bringing Linda Evangelista to a dinner party. People take notice and want to be seen with you.
The somewhat mundane truth is that, just like sourdough, food preserved by lacto-acidic means have been around for thousands of years. And the similarities don’t end there. Just as with sourdough what we’re doing here is simply building a habitat that attracts beneficial bacteria, bacteria that produce the acid we need to keep our pickles, well, pickled. It’s about as low tech as it gets, and highlights once more the idiocy of today’s obsession with disinfectants and excessive cleanliness. We need bacteria to survive, we have evolved to live in harmony with bacterial flora and I personally prefer vegetables preserved by wild fermentation to any modern preservatives that the food industry can offer me. —Andreas Düss