Visit any farmer's market in the world and you will find home grown pickled food of a large variety. For thousands of years the various global cultures have enjoyed pickling meats, vegetables, and fruits as a means of preservation, as a delicacy, and for health and long life. The Kosher dill pickle is just one in a long, line of prestigious and practical pickled foods that has made their way to our hearts in more ways than one.
In the days before electricity and refrigerators, which were not that long ago, food like butter, cheese, roots, and eggs, was preserved in a cool dry shelter. Meat was smoked or salted, and pickled food was the safest way to preserve fruits, vegetables, and meats for the longest amount of time while preserving the vitamins, minerals, and proteins of the food source. Humans, being the way we are, made the practical into delectable gourmet foods and made long winter months enjoyable with a full array of pickled food.
In China, as long ago as the building of the Great Wall in 221 BC, 2,000 years ago, the workers ate pickled cabbage, or sauerkraut, one of the most popular and famed pickled food that is also considered a delicacy. Traditional in Germany, Russian, and the Ukraine, Korea has its own version in Kimchi and Poland celebrates it at New Years. The Brits eat pickled onions and eggs while the Chinese have an extraordinary pickled food that is highly popular and one of their greatest delicacies; Goose eggs pickled in lye
Much pickled food is offered as digestive aids, like thinly sliced ginger pickled in plum juice or miso ginger pickles that are cured with burdock and other roots as well. This process adds the fermenting bacteria into your digestive track to make sure that all alien ingredients found in raw fish and other cultural culinary delights are well taken care of. Not many harmful bacteria and viruses can withstand a really good pickled pepper.
The reason why you feel so much better after eating pickled food is because of the fermentation process of either the brine, which produces lactic acid or the vinegar, which produces acetic acid. South Asia even uses oil in their pickling rather than vinegar, evident in the hot pickled food or condiments served in India called chutney. Pickled food has a pH of less than 4.6, good enough to kill most any bacteria and brings your system into a friendly balance.
The herbs and spices which are antimicrobial happen to also be popular in pickled food. Fancy that. Our ancestors knew what they were doing when they added salt to cabbage and seasoned with a little garlic, mustard, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper. Pickled food is much easier to make and often much tastier than canning. With pickled food, unfriendly ingredients will be neutralized by the process whereas with canning, sterilization is the key, which could have been a problem when building the Great Wall.