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Nuka-zuke Ricebran pickles


helenjp
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Nuka-zuke Ricebran pickles

Bags of dry seasoned nuka-doko (ricebran pickling bed) mix are available, and vary in quality. Boxes of ready matured wet mixes are usually better quality. It isn't hard to make your own, but it takes a week or two (depending on temperature/season) to mature. It's easiest to start in spring, when temperatures are warm but not hot, and the pickle bed matures just as the first summer vegetables become available.


Pickling bed

  • 2 kg rice bran
  • 300 g coarse natural salt (15% of weight of ricebran)
  • 2 l water, boiled and cooled (roughly equal weight with ricebran)

Additives

  • strip of dried kelp, wiped clean
  • 10 dried chile peppers (adjust to taste)
  • 3 pickled sansho berries Japanese type not Chinese
  • Dry ground mustard, a handful, slows fermentation

Vegetables to pickle

  • eggplants, halved or quarted
  • whole cucumbers
  • bell peppers
  • chunks of cabbage
  • daikon (Japanese radish) in quarters
  • carrot sticks

Boil water and allow to cool. You can boil the salt with the water if you like.

Use fresh ricebran, and use as soon as possible after purchase so that the oils do not become rancid. Some people like to dry-roast the ricebran over a gentle heat in a wok, stirring constantly. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Mix water, salt, and rice bran. Add enough water so that the mixture forms a ball when squeezed, but remains loose and crumbly in the bowl.

Additives can be added now or after maturing for a couple of weeks.

Transfer bran mixture to a lidded container, and press some vegetables into the pickle bed. As long as they are clean, almost anything will do at this stage -- the first round or two of pickles are normally thrown out. Set container aside in a fairly dark, cool, place.

You MUST mix thoroughly every day, up to 3 times daily in hot weather. If this is impossible, move the pickle bed to a plastic bag and "hibernate" it in the fridge. I suspect it would freeze OK, but have not tried it.

Vegetables are ready when soft (or for carrot, when somewhat soft). Always take pickled veg out, wash or wipe clean, and store in the refrigerator if not wanted immediately - old pickles will quickly invite bad bacteria or excessive sourness.

If you pickle a lot of watery vegetables such as cucumbers, remember that the pickle bed is losing salt, and as salt levels drop, fermentation and lactic acids will increase. Add a sprinkle of salt and dry mustard every time you remove vegetables in this case, and add more rice bran (and proportional amount of salt) if the bed becomes sloppy.

You can drain off excess liquid, but this tends to affect the flavor of the pickle bed.

Don't overdo the mustard - pickles should not taste bitter or hot.

Keywords: Japanese

( RG1089 )

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