Frequently Asked Questions
The addition of grape, white oak, sour cherry or horseradish leaves to the cucumber pickling brine, is a traditional method dating back hundreds of years.
Tannins, naturally-occurring phenol compounds, are credited with keeping the pickles crisp. Depending on the type of leaf used, the tannin levels vary, affecting the flavor. White oak have the highest amount, their astringent taste more evident than other leaves. This results in a dry, puckery, “mouth feel” which most people find unpleasant.
We prefer using own home-grown organic grape leaves in the following amounts, but adjust them according to your own taste and tolerance:
- 3-5 small (2-3 inches in diameter) in the 1.5 Pickl-It
- 6-10 in the 3-liter Pickl-It.
It has been suggested by some, that dietary tannins, and more specifically phenols, should be avoided. We disagree.
Tannins (phenols) are active in a wide-range of plant foods. Research shows that tannins in lacto-fermented foods are advantageous, beyond just keeping cucumber pickles crispy. These advantages are the direct result of the amazing abilities of Lb. plantarum, which occurs in the 3rd stage of natural, spontaneous lacto-fermentation (without a starter culture!).
- Grows in environments where high concentrations of tannins are often present
- Relatively unusual ability to break up tannins
- Metabolizes the phenolic acids
- Produces small amounts of phenyl-acids, such as benzoic acid, and phenyl-lactic acid
- Strong antifungal properties
“The degradation of tannins by Lb. plantarum will positively affect the nutritional value in tannin-rich fermented food products, and this may have physiological effects in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of the host. It also seems that a tannin-rich environment will give Lb. plantarum a selective advantage compared with other microorganisms that are unable to degrade tannins and that even may be inhibited by them. Source: “Handbook of Fermented Functional Foods”, p. 325, The Role of Lactobacillus plantarum in Foods and Human Health
Hendriette’s Herbal – Tannins and Tannic Acid
Tannins in Pecans are Antioxidant Rich – Tannins are beneficial, slowing oxidative process in our bodies.
Did you know...
In colonial America, the pickle patch was important to good living – pickles were the only zesty, juicy, green, succulent food available for many months of the year.
—Colonial America Pickle Patch
Thanks for the clear instructions, Kathleen! I mustered the discipline to let the fermentation work undisturbed, leaving it alone! I’m not used to that! Used to skimming off mold! I’m amazed how good my first attempt with it – khimchee – has come out. You made it so easy.
—Jamie - Massachusettes