The process of fermentation is the secret behind some of the world’s most delicious foods.
This spicy slaw is a riff on Latin America’s curtido; it’s sweet but not too funky, and perfect alongside grilled fish or as a condiment for tacos.
For a twist on traditional sauerkraut, cookbook author Karen Solomon likes to soak Brussels sprouts in a briny mixture of peppercorn, dill, garlic, and chiles.
Very large, firm daikon radishes are the best for making this classic kimchi.
Most commercial pickles are preserved with vinegar, which is the product of one kind of fermentation. But sour pickles develop their complex flavor thanks to lactic fermentation, the process by which the naturally occurring bacteria Lactobacillus transforms and preserves foods, usually in a brine. The balance of salinity is key: You want enough salt to get a nice, crisp pickle and to prevent the growth of pathogens or mold, but not so much that the pickles are unpleasant to eat.
While vinegar-making microflora will spontaneously gather on your wine, you may choose to kick-start the process with a mother of vinegar culture. This red wine vinegar is flavored with star anise and cloves, and makes an excellent all-purpose seasoning for everything from salad dressings to marinades.