last year i got this pickle press . i was in a moment of total pickle and fermentation obsession, so much so that purchasing a pickle press so i could make traditional japanese pickles seemed like a good idea.
it is actually a pretty cool design, it has a screw down vice type thing that keeps veggies submerged under the pickling liquid. further research showed that these presses were used really only for quicker vinegar pickles not the lacto fermented pickles that i prefer. i could be a purist or enjoy it for what it is – i choose the latter. it does have serious limitations, too little material and it doesn’t work, too much and it doesn’t work. over all i just assume go with crocks, plates and weights for my pickling needs.
making some quick japanese style pickles seemed like a great opportunity to take advantage of one of the plants growing like a weed in our front garden beds – shiso.
ma originally planted it because of a personal obsession with making her own umeboshi plums. turns out having shiso is not the problem, it’s the plums that are hard to find out.
the shiso has done a great job of reseeding itself and now it’s become a popular edible weed in our yard. i try to harvest it and use it in japanese style salads, but you can only use so much – and since it’s a traditional addition to japanese pickles why not use it in that pickle press.
not one to be constrained by traditional style guidelines, i read up on japanese pickle making and then charged ahead ignoring all recipes.
cucumbers and shiso rank as being traditional – sweet peppers less so and green tomatoes not a mention in any of the guides i’d read. maybe i was going to extremes of fusion cuisine – an idea i usually abhor, but i was thinking of all the great japanese pickles i’d eaten with fish, as well as a wonderful green tomato relish i’d eaten in arkansas with catfish. it seemed to make sense to try to combine the two.
with the main ingredients added, i also added some dried ginger, rice vinegar, honey, salt and hot pepper flakes. i pressed for about 4 days, which seems about 3 days longer than most would press for – and this is what turned out.
gorgeous visually, tasty, and with plenty of contrasting texture. crunchy, sour and slightly sweet. they turned out pretty well, though they don’t seem to have the complexity of lacto fermented pickles. still this time of year when you have plenty of fresh produce. rest assured that plenty of lacto fermenting has been happening as well, and i’ll be updating soon.