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Pickles can be made by storing prepared vegetables in vinegar, a weak brine solution, by dry salting or allowing the vegetables to ferment without salt. The best way to gain the benefits of consuming the friendly bacteria caused by the fermentation process is to avoid pickles made in vinegar as this kills the bacteria outright.

Lacto-fermentation is an easy traditional and most healthy method of making pickles without using vinegar. Pickles made in this manner are alive and rich in probiotics.  It is also a good way to store any excess vegetables and produce for up to one year.

In this age of antibiotics consuming lacto fermented pickles will address the balance of the flora growing in the intestines which in turn aids absorption and production of nutrients. These beneficial bacteria also produce vitamin K2 which transports calcium to the bones so are an integral part of bone and teeth health. Copper, together with zinc improves the absorption of vitamin D which aids in the absorption of calcium. However, without vitamin K2 the calcium will not get into the bones and this can lead to osteoporosis and brittle bones and tooth problems.

Brine pickling is a way of reducing the phytic acid levels in legumes, nuts, seeds and grains. Phytic acid is an enzyme inhibitor and reduces the human body's absorption of important minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and especially zinc by binding with them in the intestinal tract. See other ways to reduce phytic acid in plant foods on the Malnutrition page.

Fermentation with lactic acid is also a very safe way to preserve food and comprises of just vegetables, herbs, spices, water and sea salt. This provides the right conditions for nature to take its course. The salt slows the decomposition of the vegetables briefly until the sugars in the vegetables are broken down by friendly lactobacilli and converted into lactic acid to preserve the vegetables for many months.



Vegetables must be fully submerged beneath the brine and sufficiently weighted down.  If an errant cucumber is sticking out of the brine and exposed to air, yeast and mould are likely to flourish. 


Check the pickles regularly and immediately skim off any growth that does occur. Yeast and mould are much more difficult to control in warmer temperatures. Temperatures between about 55 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit make the best pickles



  • Food grade plastic bucket,

  • Glass jar or other nonreactive container to hold the pickles. (A 1 gallon container is needed for each 5 pounds of fresh vegetables)

  • Measuring spoon

  • A plate that will fit snugly inside the rim of the container

  • A tray to stand the bucket upon

NOTE: Sterilise by rinsing with boiling water before use



  • Unrefined pure sea salt or Himalayan pink salt crystals. (Do not use iodised salt)

  • Filtered or bottle mineral water

Mixed together to make a 5% salt solution. If you need 2 litres of water to cover the vegetables, you will use 100 grams of salt, for example. You need enough water to completely cover all the vegetables, so how much water and salt you need depends on how many vegetables are being used.


As much of one or more of the following as desired:



Example: Pickled eggs are good with beetroot, onion, cloves and dill.



Per quart of brine

Any other herbs and spices may be added as desired. Choose no more than three predominant, complimentary flavours. Experiment and create pickles based on nutritionally beneficial or medicinal vegetables, herbs and spices for a particular condition. Click the blue links or see the Nature Cures A-Z Ailments for the natural vegetables, herbs and spices for any illnesses, infection or disease or the A-Z of Natural Foods to find out what each ingredient is good for.




Add one teaspoon per quart of water or more if required.


  • Asian spiced pickle with Sichuan peppercorns and ginger

  • Mexican spiced pickle with jalapenos, cumin and oregano.

  • Mixed pickling spice gives pickles a spicier, old fashioned flavour

For crunchier pickles add a few grape or sour cherry leaves per quart of brine.



  • In a clean pickling jar, layer the well washed vegetables and spices. 

  • Leave about 5 cm (2 inches) at the top. 

  • Prepare the brine with cold water and salt. 

  • Whisk well to completely dissolve the salt and pour the brine over the vegetables to just cover them.

  • Weigh down the vegetables to keep them fully submerged in the brine by using a plate that just fits inside the container, creating a seal, and weight the plate down with a well-scrubbed, large rock or a slightly smaller container that has been filled with water.

Alternately, use a plastic bag filled with brine to act as both a weight and a seal. Fit a heavy plastic freezer bag inside another. Fill the inner bag with a salt brine of 3 tablespoons salt to 1 quart of water and tightly close both bags to prevent leaks. Place on top of the pickles, making sure it fits tightly around the inner edge of the jar. It acts as an airtight weight on top of the vegetables, which will discourage the growth of yeast and scum.

Store the pickles in a cool place (60 to 75F). Liquid may bubble and seep from the pickles as they ferment, so place the pickle container on a tray or in a bowl to contain any overflow

The pickles will take about 4-10 days to complete fermentation, depending on the temperature of fermentation and the concentration of salt in the brine. Cooler temperatures and saltier brines slow fermentation. The fermentation is complete when bubbles are no longer rising to the surface of the pickles and they have a fresh, tart smell. Taste the brine. If the saltiness is not balanced with sourness, let the pickles continue to ferment another day or two.

The pickles will keep for up to a year in the refrigerator as long as they remain submerged in the brine.


Ferment hot peppers, adding garlic for spicing. Turn the fermented hot peppers into hot sauce by stemming and pureeing them. Be sure to wear gloves when handling hot peppers. For a thinner sauce, strain. Bottled sauce will keep all year in the refrigerator.


  • Cabbage, kale, plums and prunes if suffering with thyroid problems, kidney or gallstones, joint problems, or osteoporosis.

  • Cumin, ginger and turmeric if taking anticoagulants (blood thinning medication), or hormone therapies and contraceptive pills or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen, have heart problems or during the first three months of pregnancy or are breast feeding.

  • Rosemary if suffering from high blood pressure, pregnant or breastfeeding.

  • Sage if pregnant or suffering with epilepsy.


Apple cider vinegar has many uses due to its powerful properties. It can cleanse the home and the body when diluted with water, eliminate bacteria, parasites, yeasts, moulds, fungal and viral infections and help to treat many other ailments when combined with other medicinal natural foods and taken internally with no ill effects. It can be used as the main ingredient in a tincture which can be taken as a daily tonic or taken more often to provide treatment for the following conditions:

  • Allergies.

  • Anxiety.

  • Arthritis.

  • Asthma.

  • Bacterial infections.

  • Bladder disorders.

  • Bronchitis.

  • Cancer.

  • Colds and influenza.

  • Colitis.

  • Coughs.

  • Depression.

  • Diabetes.

  • Diarrhoea.

  • Digestive disorders.

  • Dysentery.

  • Fever.

  • Flatulence.

  • Food poisoning.

  • Fungal infections.

  • Gastroenteritis.

  • High blood pressure

  • Infections.

  • Inflammation.

  • Liver disorders.

  • Lung disorders.

  • Menopause symptoms.

  • Muscle and menstrual cramps.

  • Nausea.

  • Painful and stiff joints.

  • Parasite infections.

  • Salmonella.

  • Sinus infections.

  • Skin disorders.

  • Sore throats.

  • Toothache.

  • Virus infections.

  • Whooping cough.

  • Yeast infections.

This powerful antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, antimicrobial, antiviral and vermifuge (parasite eliminating) tonic will also

  • Act as a natural diuretic.

  • Act as a probiotic providing extra beneficial bacteria to the gut.

  • Aid digestion.

  • Remove heavy metals and toxins from the system.

  • Cleanse the blood and liver.

  • Eliminate parasites.

  • Enhance cognitive functions, concentration and attention span.

  • Fight infections.

  • Improve circulation.

  • Improve lymphatic flow.

  • Improve memory and mental clarity.

  • Improve muscle function.

  • Increase energy production.

  • Increase the white blood cell count.

  • Loosen mucus.

  • Reduce inflammation.

  • Reduce the risk of intestinal and bowel disorders.

  • Repair damaged joints.

  • Stabilise blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity.

  • Stabilise cholesterol levels.

  • Stimulate white blood cell production and the immune system.

A tincture is usually made with 80-proof alcohol, however, it can also be made, for those who want to avoid alcohol, with glycerine or apple cider vinegar. Glycerine makes a great tincture for children because it is sweet but doesn’t create as potent of a final product.

A tonic is something that is meant to be taken over a long time and gradually and effectively strengthens and builds the system. Apple cider vinegar makes the ideal medium for a tonic tincture. Not only is it 100% non-toxic, it also has many health benefits itself: See apple cider vinegar.


Measurements need not be exact and can be increased to make more at a time. To find out the nutrients and medicinal benefits of each of the following ingredients click the blue links.


  • Place all the prepared vegetables, spices and herbs into the large glass jar and completely cover with apple cider vinegar so that the vinegar sits two inches above the herb and vegetable line.

  • Place a firm lid on the tonic and while holding the lid in place shake the tonic so that it mixes and settles. Add more vinegar if needed.

  • Unscrew the lid and leave on loosely.

  • Make sure the contents are always below the vinegar so that mould does not grow on them.

  • Allow the tonic to sit on a tray in a cool dark place for for at least 4-6 weeks (the longer it sits the stronger it will be).

  • Screw lid on tightly and shake daily then loosen lid again. The fermentation process will cause liquid to bubble over the sides of the jar which is why it must be placed on a tray.

  • When ready strain the tincture using a loosely woven piece of cloth, such cheesecloth or muslin, a large bowl and a stainless steel colander that fits into the bowl.

  • Place the colander into the bowl and line the colander with cheesecloth. Pour the contents of the jar into this strainer.

  • Take a flat object, such as a plate, and press onto the concoction to press the remaining juices out.

  • Pour the tonic liquid into small jars or bottles or rinse the large jar and keep it in there and label. Tinted jars or bottles are recommended for storing tinctures because they reduce light damage.

  • Store in a dark, cool place for up to one year.

  • Compost the remains or freeze it to add to soups and other dishes.


Once the tonic is strained, drink it daily or as needed. Raw honey can be added to disguise the powerful taste and it may be diluted with a little water. Four large glasses of water should be consumed through out the day when taking this tonic.

  • Take one shot (1-2 ounces or 28 - 56 ml) per day as a tonic.

  • Take up to four shots per day to fight infection and other ailments.

NOTE: This apple cider tonic is not recommended for pregnant and breast feeding women or those with a serious medical condition without professional consultation as it may interact with certain medications. Dilute well for children and only give a quarter of the dosage for adults.


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Nat H Hawes SNHS Dip (Advanced and Sports nutrition) is a qualified nutritional and sports therapist and author of the new book, Nature Cures, who has been researching natural foods and their health benefits since 2003. Click here to see what others think of the new book.


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