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Chris Amirault

Nukazuke Pickling

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Chris -

- detailed how-to discusses hows and whys

- ingredients & timings for initial seasoning, beginning batch, 2nd & 3rd batch; subsequent batches

- prepping of suggested veggies

- troubleshooting

- seasonal adjustments to the nuka

- explanation on monitoring the nuka for freshness

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Thanks. I'm going to head out early and grab it at a nearby library. I really appreciate it!

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Did some more research and come across some references to adding the peels of persimmons to nukazuke. Any idea what they could be for?

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Did some more research and come across some references to adding the peels of persimmons to nukazuke. Any idea what they could be for?

Some effect of the tannins?

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I went out to the organic store today. Two lbs. of Bob's Mill rice bran at $4.97 each. It looks rather odd to me but I will give it a shot. It seems to be much more finely milled than what I have used in the past.

At least there were no shipping charges and I got some other things too that I hadn't realized I needed.

I will have to change what I will use for a pickle pot as I had planned on using my mom's pickle crock but it is too big for a two lb. batch.

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Fruyit peels - I've only ever heard of adding this to bran for making takun, actually. They might add a small amount of pectin, which with calcium might keep pickles crisper, but it sounds a bit optimistic.

Mustard - I do add this, but only a little. You can always add more later. If you are using chilis you might not need it anyway.

Beer etc. Not needed.

Kombu - I second what John said, if you want to add that kind of stuff, save it for winter when spoilage is not an issue. Same goes for shiitake.

Basically a mature and nicely pampered nuka bed will have plenty of flavor of its own. Most of the other stuff is window dressing.

What you do need is spare dry bran, as some will disappear when you remove pickled vegetables, and the bed will get wet from vegetable juices anyway, so every 10-20 days you will need to top it up a bit.

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Found rice bran today at a local bulk food place - called 'stabilized' rice bran. It is apparently treated (I'm assuming with heat) to kill the lipase enzymes.

This raises the question - is the stabilized bran suitable for pickles or is this process actually removing a vital enzyme necessary for the fermentation process?

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It should work...it might perhps be less flavorful, but worth a try.

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How is the pickle project going?

Around the time this thread was started I finally got around to redoing my pickle beds. I used to use a large tupperware and pickle different kinds of vegetables together. I re-did the pickle beds for this summer this time making 5 individual smaller tupperware containers. When you make pickles every day this really helps. When you are not pickling a particular vegetable you can put the pickling bed to sleep in the refrigerator. Seperating them also helps the pickles from picking up strange colors and tastes from adjacent vegetables. Right now we are pickling mizu-nasu (a special type of eggplant), cucumbers, Chinese cabbage and mizuna (a type of green). The fifth container is reserved for strong smelling things such as garlic, onion, etc.

I find that letting the pickle bed have some time in the refrigerator every week actually makes it taste better. I assume the cold prevents it for fermenting too vigorously. It also seems to slow the movement of salt into the vegetables. After about three weeks of tending them they are starting to produce really good pickles. Just in time for one of summer's greatest pleasures: A nukazuke cucumber and a cold beer!

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We've also got a 3-week old nuka bed on the go, and it's just starting to come along nicely. So far eggplant, cucumber, and carrot. I'm thinking of putting some young ginger in mine...

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Finally had the ability to get this going tonight with ~1 kg rice bran. Followed _john's ratios above using 3 chiles and 3 medium leaves of cabbage torn into chunks. A question: do I need to cover this tightly with, say, plastic wrap, or is loosely with aluminum foil ok?

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It should be covered in such a way as to prevent too much evaporation and to prevent bugs etc getting in. It should never be sealed in a jar because it is alive. I keep mine in large rectangular tupperware containers with one of the corners cracked open. You want to avoid water droplets forming at all costs. Water droplets form from evaporated pure water, this is the perfect place for unwanted microbes to get a start and get into your pickling medium. Keep the sides of the container clean as well. I wipe mine down with ethanol but I wouldn't consider that necessary for home use.

you know when you are getting some good fermentation because there will be gasses trapped in the pickle bed. It will almost feel fluffy when you go in for your daily mix.

What is the average temperature of where you are storing it?

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Thanks for all that -- I appreciate the information!

I'm in northeastern US, where the indoor temperatures are now in the 60-80F range, I'd say.

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Zucchini seems to be much more common this year in Japan. I tried pickling some young zucchini and they came out really well. I cut them in half lengthwise and pickled them for about 5 hours. I then let them sit for another 5 hours or so before serving. Pickling vegetables for a given time and then letting them "rest" allows the salt level inside the vegetable to balance out giving you much more consistent and delicious pickles.

One thing that is not mentioned often in books is that you should leave the nuka clinging to the vegetables you have removed from the pickling bed until just before serving. If you wash off the excess nuka and store the pickles in the refrigerator they quickly develop what I call "white slime" bacteria.

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How much nuka to leave on?

Update: my bed is coming along nicely, and the small cucumbers turned out great. They definitely improve with a quick spell in the fridge. My 6 year old and I are loving them; my wife, not so much.

I'm wondering if the way to go is (1) remove from nuka and wash off; (2) vacuum seal; (3) ice bath; (4) serve.

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How much nuka to leave - pull out of pickle bed, shake over the sink. That much.

Once you've rinsed a pickle, you should eat it ASAP. You can buy "ready to serve" nuka pickles in this condition, but you can't buy them pre-rinsed,and I've never seen leftover (rinsed, cut) nuka pickles come back out of the fridge looking like anything I want to meet on my plate.

Zucchini - snap. But still pricey, just more available. Sigh.

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I wanna bump this thread. I'm curious to see if anybody who had their Nukamiso successfully mature, maintained it and produced more batches from the mother culture? Or do you start over all the time?

@Chris Amirault did you cease the project after you've achieved nukazuke perfection or did you continue with it? 

Same question goes for @helenjp ,@_john and @ojisan . Also what are your favorite vegetables to pickle in the nuka beds and how long do you pickle it for?  I'd also like to invite anyone who's had experience in making nukazuke to jump in, this thread's been dormant since 2011, there's plenty of experience to be had in 5 years that's waiting to shared :) Thanks in advance for entertaining my questions. 

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I did a bed a few years back and the results were just ok. A few things that I think I did wrong:

-Kept the bed in a glass snapware container with the snapware closed.

-Kept the bed in the fridge all the time. Maybe too cold?

-Didn't turn the bed everyday

 

I want to try getting another bed going and now that I have  abasement that stays in the mid fifties I think it's the perfect environment for it. Looking forward to others comments and experiences, especially on how long you can keep a bed going and what the keys to longevity are.

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Better late than never! I no longer keep a year-round nuka bed, because my husband and I just don't eat enough, and even he eventually gets sick of them. However, I do regularly toast and salt bran from our rice-polishing machine to add to the nuka bed that my husband keeps from spring thro fall - he's taken it over. He says he's planning to keep the current one going over winter this year now that he works from home most of the time.

How long to pickle??? That depends largely on the maturity of the pickle bed (an over-mature one will pickle most vegetables in half a day, but they will be very sour and possibly more funky than tangy). And of course it depends on whether you keep it in the fridge or not. 

Currently, in the fridge (fridge nukamiso benefits from being left out on the counter overnight when you put a fresh batch of veges in, then put it in the fridge in the morning, before the day gets too hot): 
2 days - Japanese cucumbers snapped in half, halved Japanese eggplants
3 days or more: daikon quartered vertically, carrot probably about the same, but he hates carrot
Myoga buds are a favorite of mine, they take a day or two. 
Cabbage chunks are good too.

When the nuka gets too funky, and you want to replace almost all of it, you can use it to pickle fish such as fresh sardines (grill the pickled fish, and keep the whole thing in the fridge from start to finish).

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I remake mine from scratch every spring and use it through the summer until autumn comes around. I have an entirely different way of making the culture now. I make a very loose mix of toasted nuka and water and add salt to bring the salt concentration to 2.5%. I leave this out on the counter, stirring each day, until it is very sour. Then I add additional nuka and salt to bring it to a thick mud consistency and a 2.5% salinity. When I add vegetables to pickle them I weigh them and add 2.5% of their weight to the pickle pot. I still every day when I keep the pickle pot at room temperature to prevent too much mold from forming on the surface. Some people like the mold flavor mixed with the lactic acid flavor. I like pure lactic acid flavor so I mix frequently or when I'm not picking a lot I put the whole thing in the refrigerator and mix once a week. If you keep it in the refrigerator you have to take pickle pot out and let it ferment at room temp to keep it healthy. As for what to pickle,  I pickle every vegetable that is in season during the duration that I have the nuka-doko. I keep mine in a large zip-loc freezer bag.

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Yes, ours is in a heavy ziploc bag too. I agree about the weigh and add salt part as well - if you don't, either you over-salt, or a well-used bed very quickly runs low on salt and starts getting...funky.

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I hope it's not a hassle, reviving such a old thread, but there are people here with years of experience making nukazuke. 

 

I am seeking advice for a good rice-polishing machine. I'm from Europe and it's night impossible to get rice bran in my country. I can get most other brans, but I've never had good success with them (and I believe it's always best to learn on traditional substrates and then move on to experimenting). Sourcing brown rice is rather easy so I see getting such a machine to be a good option. I would even welcome suggestions for rice-polishing machines from Japan, as I have an acquaintance who frequently visits Japan and I'm sure we could make a deal. I'd rather pay a bit extra and be sure the appliance will perform well and not die on me within months.

 

Any tips on the subject matter will be appreciated. 

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I use a Yamazen pressure-type rice polisher. I think the current model is YRP-51, and it is available in some countries outside Japan. This type allows you to set the desired amount of polish and the time separately. Some very cheap models just have a timer, so if you want whiter rice, you polish it for longer. That's a great theory, but it tends to result in badly broken rice grains.

We use our rice bran for nuka-zuke, but it is also incredibly useful in the compost heap! It acts as a very good starter.

  • Thanks 1

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Helenjp, thank you for this wonderful bit of information. Finally I have a point of reference what to look for.

 

If I may ask, would you know which countries outside Japan these are? My search returned only japanese pages.

Also, would you know if this (or other, perhaps) rice polisher can also polish other grains (like wheat, rye,...)? I make my own koji for misos and would love to try growing it on other grains, but in my country millers polish only barley. 

 

 

 

 

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Rakuten seems to offer it - I just searched for "Yamazen rice".

And Amazon.de sells rice bran all ready for making nukazuke!

I have no way to tell how well a rice polisher could handle other grains - I have never seen husked but unpolished wheat or barley for sale here.

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