Health & Wellness

How to Pickle Foods (+ The 5 Best Things to Pickle!)

When you think of the best things to pickle, odds are that cucumbers, cabbage, and maybe even eggs come to mind. But you may be surprised to learn that some of the best foods to pickle aren’t even in that list!

Let’s get a little creative and expand your palette by discussing some of the most surprisingly delicious foods to pickle. Trust me—this is one article you’re going to reference more than once.

 

How to Pickle Foods

Before we talk about the best things to pickle, let’s review how to quickly pickle foods. Contrary to traditional beliefs, pickling foods doesn’t have to take a long time. In fact, you can have freshly pickled foods in as little as 48 hours! You just need to know how to do it.

Choose your foods to pickle and prepare them by rinsing and drying, then slicing, chopping, and/or peeling them. Place your foods into mason jars. You can also add any herbs or spices, such as garlic, red pepper flakes, fresh dill, turmeric, or thyme.

Next, you’re going to make your brine. Start by putting equal parts vinegar and water in a saucepan. You can use white vinegar or rice vinegar.

Alternatively, you can use apple cider vinegar (my personal favorite, due to the many health benefits is provides!).

Add a little salt and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring to make sure the salt has fully dissolved.

Once it’s mixed, pour the mixture over the foods in the mason jars. Make sure there are no air bubbles, then top with the lids and bring to room temperature.

Once the jars have cooled, place them in the refrigerator for 48 to 72 hours. It’s that simple!

3 Health Benefits of Pickled Foods

Here are three top health benefits of eating pickled foods.

1. Supports digestive health

Pickled foods are fermented foods, which are rich in probiotics. As a result, they contain beneficial bacteria known to support a healthy gut microbiome and digestive health.

Specifically, studies have shown that eating probiotic-rich foods not only increases stool frequency but also reduces intestinal transit time in adults (thereby fighting constipation). [1]

Meanwhile, other studies have shown that eating probiotic-rich foods improves stool consistency, meaning it benefits those prone to constipation as well as those prone to diarrhea. [2]

2. Helps burn belly fat

Believe it or not, one of the benefits of eating pickled foods is that they actually help to prevent and even reduce dreaded belly fat.

In fact, studies have shown that eating fermented foods for two four-week periods significantly decreased obese and overweight participants’ waist-hip ratio as well as their overall body fat percentage. [3]

Meanwhile, another study revealed that women who consumed probiotics for at least 12 weeks lost more weight as well as body fat, in comparison to those who didn’t consume the probiotics. [4]

3. Boosts mental health

It’s been well documented that your gut health impacts your brain health. In fact, this relationship is known as the gut-brain access.

Studies have shown that an imbalance of gut bacteria can cause mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Moreover, studies have shown that consuming probiotics (such as those found in pickled foods) not only reduces the release of cortisol (the stress hormone) but also behaviors related to anxiety and depression. [5]

So, now that you know how eating pickled foods can support your overall health, let’s take a look at some of the best things to pickle! You may be surprised by a few!

5 Surprising Best Things to Pickle

Here are five of the best things to pickle—from vegetables to fruits to nuts! These are a few of my favorite foods, whether they’re pickled, raw, or thrown into other dishes.

1. Avocado

You may be surprised to learn that avocados are delicious when they’re fermented, making them one of the best things to pickle in your entire kitchen! Plus, avocados offer many health benefits on their own—largely thanks to their rich omega-3 fatty acid content.

If you’re looking to step it up a notch, you can also make fermented guacamole! Click here for the recipe.

2. Walnuts

Another one of the best things to pickle is perhaps one of the healthiest nuts around: walnuts! While you may not have heard of pickled walnuts before, they’re actually popular in the U.K. and often served with cheese.

When it comes to the walnuts themselves, they’re a nutritional powerhouse and rich in antioxidants. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are linked to slower aging and lower systemic inflammation. [6] You can learn more about the health benefits of walnuts here.

3. Blueberries

You may be surprised to learn that blueberries are another one of the best things to pickle in your kitchen. Not only do you get the benefits of fermentation, which I mentioned above, but blueberries offer a ton of benefits as well.

Blueberries are incredibly rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals—and one phytochemical in particular, which is known as anthocyanin. This phytochemical is actually the compound that gives blueberries their deep bluish-purple color.

Interestingly, several studies have shown that anthocyanins also contain antioxidant and anti-microbial properties. Accordingly, they’ve been show to support both visual and neurological health. [7]

But those are just two of the many health benefits of blueberries. To learn more, check out my article on the six surprising health benefits you can get from eating this powerhouse fruit.

4. Cauliflower

One of the best things to pickle is cauliflower. But I like to mix this one up a bit and include carrots or bell peppers to make it extra colorful and flavorful. I also like to add a little red pepper flakes and turmeric to this one for some added health benefits.

Speaking of health benefits, as a cruciferous vegetable, cauliflower offers so many—from fighting inflammation to aiding digestion to even supporting healthy weight management!

Click here for more information about how cauliflower supports your health. You may be surprised by all It offers.

5. Cherries

The last on my list of the best things to pickle may be a little surprising: cherries!

While we typically think of cherries as a sweet treat served on top of a sundae or as pie filling, cherries also make a great snack when pickled. To help you get strated, here’s one of my favorite recipes for pickled cherries.

You may be surprised to learn that cherries are actually rich in fiber and vitamin C, the latter of which is known to support immunity, skin health, digestion, and so much more.

One last tip for pickled cherries? They’re fantastic as part of a festive holiday charcuterie platter!

 

Best things to pickle - Dr. Pingel

 

Key Takeaways

  • Contrary to traditional beliefs, pickling foods doesn’t have to take a long time. In fact, you can have freshly pickled foods in as little as 48 hours!
  • Three top health benefits of eating pickled foods include: supporting digestive health, burning belly fat, and boosting mental health.
  • Five of the best things to pickle include: avocado, walnuts, blueberries, cauliflower, and cherries.

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