Kids Pickling Veggies

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Kids like pickles in their sandwiches. Pickles are usually cucumbers that have been treated to last long after they have been harvested. Kids can grow organic cucumbers in pots on the deck with a small trellis. Pickling is a process that preserves cucumbers and other veggies by increasing the acidity and making an inhospitable environment for the microbes responsible for spoilage. Some pickles are fermented, a process in which anaerobic bacteria are encouraged to convert naturally occurring sugars in the food to lactic acid. The lactic acid is what flavors authentic cucumber kosher dills and the cabbage to make sauerkraut and kimchi. Other pickles are infused with vinegar and canned or refrigerated for long term storage. Almost all the foods we eat contain living microbes, including bacteria, yeast, and mold, that cause food to rot. To slow down the growth of microbes, food can be dried, canned, frozen, salted, and pickled. When an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice is added to vegetables, the acid kills the microbes and allows them to be stored for a longer time without spoiling. Pickles are made by adding vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices to cucumbers or other veggies. Kids can season their pickles with a variety of spices including: mustard seeds, bay leaves, celery seed, turmeric, black peppercorns, dried red peppers, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, garlic, and dill. Kids can make a spice bag for some pickle recipes by cutting a 6 inch square of cheesecloth, adding their choice of spices in the center of the cloth, tying the edges together with string, and removing it before pouring the brine into the jars. Kids can pickle to preserve excess produce, to reduce the carbon footprint by eating local organic foods, and to enjoy the delicious crisp flavor.

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