In a healthy home-made pickle

Rory Harding makes good use of the lush garden at his Dunedin home and, below, ferments cabbage....
Rory Harding makes good use of the lush garden at his Dunedin home and, below, ferments cabbage. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Rory Harding makes good use of the lush garden at his Dunedin home and, below, ferments cabbage....
Rory Harding makes good use of the lush garden at his Dunedin home and, below, ferments cabbage. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Rory Harding makes good use of the lush garden at his Dunedin home and, below, ferments cabbage....
Rory Harding makes good use of the lush garden at his Dunedin home and, below, ferments cabbage. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Rory Harding makes good use of the lush garden at his Dunedin home and, below, ferments cabbage....
Rory Harding makes good use of the lush garden at his Dunedin home and, below, ferments cabbage. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Rory Harding makes good use of the lush garden at his Dunedin home and, below, ferments cabbage....
Rory Harding makes good use of the lush garden at his Dunedin home and, below, ferments cabbage. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Rory Harding makes good use of the lush garden at his Dunedin home and, below, ferments cabbage....
Rory Harding makes good use of the lush garden at his Dunedin home and, below, ferments cabbage. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.

Making his own chutneys, jams, and pickle is not new to Rory Harding, who loves utilising his well-stocked vegetable patch.

The 28-year-old Dunedin man started growing his own fruit and vegetables in the backyard of his flat about three years ago.

He learnt a range of techniques and gathered tips by talking to other gardeners and researching on the internet.

Everything from gooseberries, to leeks, broad beans and feijoas now flourish in the yard, based on the principles of permaculture.

When he laid out the free-flowing area, he was aiming for "an environmental, edible botanical situation", he said.

Having been interested in cooking "for a few years now", Mr Harding recently learnt a different form of pickling, known as live fermentation.

It is as simple as chopping cabbage, adding salt, and waiting for a couple of weeks for it to be ready.

It is similar to kimchi, from Korea, and sauerkraut, from Germany, but with fewer ingredients.

"You can put other vegetables in, but it's the cabbage which allows the lactobacillus culture to predominate and that's what preserves it," Mr Harding said.

The salt drew moisture out of the cabbage, which ended up submerged in its own brine.

Red cabbage was favoured over green because it went a "really awesome bright pink".

"I like the dramatic colour it gives."

Mr Harding and his five flatmates use the fermented cabbage pickle on sandwiches and toast, "like any other pickled condiment".

However, it is the fact this form of pickling retains the food's enzymes and vitamins that he likes most.

"Most pickles have a lot of sugar and vinegar added, so this way you don't add anything. It's just the ingredients and salt.

You retain the raw value of the food. It's valuable, fresh nutrition," he said.

Along with vegetables and fruit, he gives some of the pickle away, but it does not normally last long in his household.

This summer and last autumn he was motivated to make great batches of fruit jam, as the smaller amounts he made in the past never lasted through winter.

Given his interest in natural nutrition and horticulture, Mr Harding is keen to educate others about how easy it is to grow and preserve food.

"I think people forget there are lots of permanent food crops to grow, such as nuts and fruit," he said.

"For the most part, [his large and productive garden] does not need much work, apart from chopping and dropping plants ... to fertilise the soil."

ellie.constantine@odt.co.nz

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