We Can Phickle That! Shiver Me Liver Pickles
Several years ago I was hit by a car riding my bike. I told the whole story on stage and won the title, “Best Storyteller in Philadelphia” as a result. (If you don’t like swearing, you may not want to watch that video, btw. Language is very adult. I got hit by a car, cut me some slack.). So at least there was one good outcome. The less good outcomes of this guy taking me down were years of physical therapy culminating in spine surgery when I could no longer walk, 6 months of disability and missed worked and a liver that seems to have been damaged by the medication that I will never repudiate because it gave me back the ability to walk and stopped the excruciating pain from radiating down my legs. Seems like a fair exchange, right?
Anyway, I’ve self-diagnosed this liver jawn from the book You Are What You Eat by Gillian McKeith (among other sources). It’s kind of a fun way to play “What’s wrong with me?” using diagnostic techniques from multiple branches of non-mainstream medicine. My tongue, skin and functions all pointed to a liver issue and (also an insufficient amount of dietary fat) when I first used the book as a guide several years ago. Since then I’ve tried to care for my liver, by cutting back on alcohol and eating foods that the liver loves. I also sip on milk thistle infusions and consume a foraged nettle tincture from time to time. And here you thought I was the least hippy of the fermenters.
These pickles are a combination of things I like to eat, things I think are pretty in a jar and things that make my insides happy. While I am a proponent of fermented foods for many reasons, health is definitely why I got started, and while it has definitely not made me a perfect specimen, in some ways my ferments have truly helped me.
Here is a favorite, healing pickle that I make if something tells me my liver is unhappy with me again.
The selected ingredients:
Black Radish, Daikon, Watermelon Radish – Radishes have long been eaten alongside fatty foods, perhaps to support the liver in its duties. Maybe this is why the Japanese often eat daikon with tempura and the French enjoy buttered radishes? I also love the colors this particular combination of radishes imparts.
Burdock Root – Good for SO many things, including eczema, a disease my parents were informed I had while they were still in the delivery room.
Turmeric – My go-to anti-inflammatory. I put it in anything I’m going to use as medicine.
Uncooked radishes, including fermented radishes, can be less than optimal for people with severe thyroid conditions. If that applies to you, you may want to sit this one out. This is the quantity of sliced veggies I got into my quart jar. The size of your radishes may differ from the size of mine, so be prepared for some snacky bites if you have a bit too much for your jar, or just use a larger container.
Also, these stink. I love the smell of fermenting veggies, but for real, these are only delightful if you too love that stench. I’m not sure, but I think it’s the black radish that fills the room with the aroma of microbes at work.
- 3-4 watermelon radishes
- 2 black radishes
- 1 daikon
- 2 inches turmeric root
- 1 thin burdock root
- 2 cups of brine (1 tablespoon of salt dissolved in 2 cups of room temperature water)
- Slice all veggies to about 1/3 of an inch (~1 cm) thick
- layer them into a quart jar until you are just below the shoulders of the jar
- Pour brine over and weight your veggies down, using either the ghetto jar method, some jar weights or another method of your choice.
- Allow to ferment for 2 weeks. The brine will become gorgeous within a couple hours.
- Remove weights once you’re happy with the acidity level, put a lid on it and stick it in the fridge.