Japanese Pickles



by Lévana Kirschenbaum, The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen

You’ll love ’em! They have a small fraction of the salt and the vinegar of their commercial counterparts, and ten times the flavor. Crunchy and pungent with just a hint of sweetness, and really good for you too, like all fermented foods. I whip them out anytime I need a quick fix but can’t afford anything too caloric, like after dinner when the kitchen is closed. The simple secret here is to force the mixture into a wide-mouth glass jar or a pickle press (see below) so it disgorges its juices and you are left with a reduced and powerfully condensed bowl of pickles.


1/2  small head green cabbage, diced about 1 inch
2 large carrots, diced about 1 inch
1 medium purple onion, diced small
4 Kirby cucumbers, or one long seedless cucumber, unpeeled, diced about 1 inch
1 large turnip, diced about 1 inch
6 ribs celery, peeled and diced small
1/2  cup brown rice vinegar, or unfiltered apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons wasabi powder (For Passover: grated fresh horseradish)
tablespoons sugar


Place all the vegetables in a glass or stainless steel bowl. Whisk the vinegar, salt, wasabi, and sugar in a cup. Pour over the vegetables and toss thoroughly. Force the mixture into clean glass jars or in a pickle press (see box below about how to use). Allow a few hours to pickle

Store refrigerated up to two weeks.


Yield:  Makes about 2 quarts.

G (Gluten–Free), P (Passover)

Variation: Kim Chi
This great crowd pleaser is exactly our condiment above, with some added sliced garlic cloves, paprika, red pepper flakes, and some sliced fresh ginger if desired. Proceed just as above.

Japanese Picle Press
This nifty, inexpensive round or square box is the secret of professional–tasting pickles and kim chi easily made in your own kitchen. Mine is 3 1/2 quarts and is easy to order online. It is equipped with a vise that comes down on the seasoned vegetables you are pickling. Place your seasoned vegetables in the press, press down hard to lock the press, and turn the vise down as low as it will come. You will be amazed how the vise will compress the veggies, separating the liquids from the solids.

After a few hours, the pickles are ready: You are left with a fabulous handful of pickles. Transfer the pickles to a glass jar with only enough of the pickling liquid to cover them completely, discarding the rest of the liquid. Or simply leave them in the pickle press, liquid and all,

Recipes: Side Dishes, Pickles, Japanese, Parve, Kosher

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