Compared to pickling, fermentation encompasses a wider range of foods including breads, soy sauce, and cheese — all of which have undergone a chemical reaction with bacteria. This can be added yeast or simply letting cultures develop naturally in the food with the intended goal of altering the taste, texture, and shelf life of the finished product. For instance, to make miso paste, cooked soybeans are mixed with water, salt, and koji (a strain of mold used to make the condiment), and the mixture is allowed to ferment over time. The result, as with other fermented foods — and even beverages like kombucha — is a preserved aliment with a complex flavor. Further, according to Healthline, these foods have beneficial health properties, like probiotics, which promote gut health and immunity.
Pickled foods that haven’t also been fermented, unfortunately, don’t carry the same potential nutritional benefits, but that’s not to discount their flavor, nor the utility of the method. While fermentation requires a bit more know-how, quick pickling can easily be done at home. It typically just involves heating vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices like dill and coriander seeds in a saucepan, then pouring the mixture into mason jars filled with cleaned and cut cucumbers (or other veg) to create delicious, briny snacks or toppings that can last for months on the shelf and weeks in your fridge.
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