What’s the difference between pickling and fermenting?

There’s more to food than just freezing and canning for preservation – pickling and fermenting foods has been around for centuries, but what’s the difference between the two, and which is healthiest overall?

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Pickling

What’s the difference: in procedure?

Brine, vinegar and spices ferment with their fruits or vegetables in a pickling jar, sometimes sodium benzoate or EDTA is added as a preservative. During pickling, lactobacillus bacteria produces lactic acid to act as a natural preservative.

Related posts: What’s the difference between olive oil and extra virgin olive oil?

What’s the difference: in taste?

Depending upon which pickle is used, flavour can differ. Vinegar-based pickling agents produce tangier flavours, whereas brine-based agents preserve the flavour of the internal fruit and vegetable.

What’s the difference: in nutrition?

Brine pickled foods contain healthy probiotic microbes formed from the natural lactobacillus bacteria. Vinegar pickled foods don’t contain the same probiotic microbes and have fewer health benefits than brine pickled foods.

Fermenting

What’s the difference: in procedure?

Fermentation occurs when food is treated with yeast and bacteria which converts the sugars and carbohydrates of foods into organic acids.

What’s the difference: in taste?

Fermentation is a good way to produce foods which need bacteria to form, such as yogurt, or to make salty foods tangy, such as sauerkraut and kimchi.

What’s the difference: in nutrition?

High levels of protein, amino acids and vitamins, as well as fewer antinutrients means fermentation is a great way to eat healthily without sacrificing big flavours. The added yeast may be a slight problem for coeliacs and those with digestive issues.

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