Mitoku works with producers creating naturally delicious pickles according to the time-honored methods of one-form pickling that have been developed over time to preserve food and lock in its goodness. A variety of pickling media are used, including bran, salt, vinegar, miso, shoyu, and the residue from sake production, but common to all Mitoku’s traditional pickles is the absence of refined sugar, commercial salt, synthetic vinegar or soy sauce, and preservatives.
Sushi Ginger Pickles
Mitoku’s sushi ginger is made with ultra-thin ginger slices, pickled in brown rice vinegar mixture. This ready-to-eat, fresh and zesty sushi ginger, stimulates your appetite. Unsweetened. Naturally colored with red shiso (perilla herb) leaves.
Daikon, Japanese radish, is pickled in rice bran following traditional farmhouse methods, with no artificial additives, coloring, preservatives, or sugar. This authentic and flavorful pickle is great as a side dish or tasty snack.
The importance of pickles in the mostly vegetarian, grain-based diet cannot be overemphasized. Pickles contain large amounts of lactobacilli bacteria, which are important to the digestion of grains and vegetables. Scientific research has shown that these “friendly” bacteria survive the trip through the acidic juices of the stomach to the small intestine. In the small intestine they aid pancreatic enzymes in the transformation of dextrin (a carbohydrate found in grains) into simple sugars that can be readily used by the body.
Lactobacilli have other functions in the digestive system. In the large intestine they help synthesize B and K vitamins, and they inhibit the growth of putrefying bacteria. The role of intestinal bacteria in human metabolism is extremely complex. Dr. Phillip Evans, a US physician and the author of The Biochemical Basis for Disease and Disorders, feels that an overall sense of well-being cannot be experienced without a healthy population of appropriate intestinal flora.
Other benefits of pickles relate to specific types, such as the alkalinizing properties of umeboshi and the high niacin content of bran pickles. One property common to all pickles is high fiber, which is so important to proper intestinal cleansing and functioning.
The traditional pickling process used by the Japanese is technically known as “lactic acid fermentation,” one of nature’s oldest and safest ways of preserving food. The key to good pickling is the early establishment of lactic acid-forming bacteria before other bacteria have a chance to multiply. The latter, which can spoil pickling vegetables, cannot tolerate the high acidity produced by lactic acid bacteria or the high salt concentration used in most pickling methods. To help establish beneficial bacteria, traditional makers use enough salt and mix it well, and store developing pickles in a cool place (4-18 °C is ideal).
Although roots such as ginger, carrots and Japanese radish (daikon) are the most commonly used vegetables in Japanese pickling, other vegetables such as cucumber, burdock, eggplant and even flowers are sometimes used. The key to making crisp, flavorful pickles, such as Mitoku’s Takuan and Sushi Pickles, is using fresh, clean vegetables, adding just enough high quality salt, and creating a very high acidity before the vegetables start to spoil.