Eat better

DIY preserving

Summer brings an abundance of incredible fruit and veg. Make the most of affordable, fresh seasonal produce by preserving, pickling and fermenting for the months to come.

Pickling and fermenting fruit and vegetables

 

These are satisfying to make and eat - plus they use zero Points foods. 

 

Lemon

Wash lemons. Slice from the top as though cutting it into quarters, but remove the knife before cutting all the way through. Leave about 1cm uncut at the end so lemons hold together. Mix 1 cup coarse salt in a bowl with black peppercorns, a few whole dried chillies, a bay leaf and coriander seeds. Push salt mixture into lemons and tightly pack into a sterilised jar. Add lemon juice to cover lemons. Seal jar. Preserved lemons will be ready in three months. Store jar in a cool dark place and refrigerate once opened. Mix with garlic and parsley to sprinkle on grilled grilled skinless salmon for a delicious 0 SmartPoints meal. 

 

Cucumbers

Wash, then halve baby cucumbers lengthways and remove seeds with a teaspoon. Cut into thick strips. Sprinkle generously with salt and set aside for 15 minutes. Rinse under water and pat dry. Pack tightly in sterilised jars with fennel seeds, black peppercorns and fresh dill sprigs. Bring water and white vinegar (half/half ratio) to the boil in a saucepan. Simmer for 2 minutes. Pour enough liquid to cover cucumbers. Seal. Store in a dark cool place for up to six months. Store in the fridge once opened. Slice them into salads or eat on their own.

 

Capsicums

Chargrill capsicums (or cook under a grill) until charred. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 10-15 minutes. Discard skin, seeds and membranes. Cut into wide strips and place in sterilised jars. Bring 5 cups water, 1 cup white vinegar, ¼ cup salt and juice of ½ lemon to the boil in a large saucepan. Pour over capsicum. Seal. Store in a dark cool place for up to three months. Once opened, store in fridge. Great with salads.

 

Eggplants

Wash then cut eggplant into long thin slices. Sprinkle with salt and set aside between sheets of paper towel for one hour. Bring a saucepan of water and white wine vinegar to the boil (half/half ratio) and add eggplant. Simmer for 5 minutes or until tender. Transfer with tongs to sterilised jars, adding sliced whole garlic bulb, dried oregano, dried chilli  flakes (or dried whole chillies) as you go. Top up with olive oil. Seal. Store in a cool, dark place for up to three months. Store in the fridge once opened. Serve with entrees or salads.

DIY preserving

TIP: When adding liquid to the jar, use a chopstick to prod the vegies to let any air bubbles out.

 

Fermented foods

With kimchi popping up on edgy burgers, and sauerkraut-making classes being offered at local community centres, preserving food is enjoying a resurgence. But are these fermented friends really good for us?

Fermented foods have been in our diets for thousands of years. The process adds good bacteria, such as probiotics, that have been studied for their health benefits. Here’s what you know:

  • Pasteurisation: This process kills good bacteria, but commercial pickled or fermented vegies have to be pasteurised, by law. Products sold at growers’ markets may not be pasteurised.
     
  • Salt content: Keep in mind that as a preservation tool, fermented and pickled foods often contain high levels of salt or sodium. In some cases you can rinse off the brine before serving.
     
  • Mind the sugar: When choosing commercially preserved or canned fruit, check to see if it has added sugar or syrup solution and look for choices that are in water.
     
  • Variety is king: Enjoy pickled and fermented vegetables and preserved fruit but mix it up with plenty of vibrant fresh produce to reap all of Mother Nature’s health benefits.​