Pickling with Nuka (Rice Bran)

cucumber pickles in nuka pot
In the nuka pot are pickled ‘Diva’ cucumbers.

Remember Thomas Jefferson’s “fine spiced pickle, brought up troutlike from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below stairs in Aunt Sally’s cellar”? Here’s a pair of nuka pickles, brought up clamlike from the mucky depths of a fragrant jar of nukamiso.

In traditional Japanese homes, nuka–rice bran–is salted, mixed with water and either beer or soaked koji (Aspergillus-inoculated rice), flavored with ginger, chile, and kombu (kelp), and mixed into a pickling paste that can last for generations, if it’s well cared for.

Every day, you must reach your hands into the nuka pot to stir and turn the mixture, feeding it at first with vegetable scraps. When it has developed a strong, earthy aroma, you bury in the paste whatever vegetables you’d like to pickle. You take them out after a few hours or days, when they’re as salty and tangy as you like. Rinse them, slice them if you want, and eat.

These ain’t Aunt Sally’s pickles, Tom, but try them–they may grow on you.

Full instructions for pickling in a nuka pot are in The Joy of Pickling.