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Pickles ~ Chinese Medicine Style

Winter is upon us and for many of us, especially those in the northern climates, this means preparing for winter, the right way. Historically, one of the most important ways to prepare for the winter was to preserve food and one of the oldest ways to preserve food is by pickling..

The word pickle comes from the Dutch word Pikel, meaning salt or brine. Salt has been an important tool used for food preservation throughout history. In places that had large deposits of salt, like ancient Mesopotamia, people cured meat with salt. Pickling was also used all over the ancient world, either with a salt brine or through a fermentation process. People in India are credited with the pickling of the first cucumbers over 3,000 years ago, while the ancient Chinese used vinegar brines for pickling much of their meat.

Today, pickles continue to be a beloved worldwide treat, with many delicious variations and flavor innovations. Whether pickled in salt and/or vinegar or fermented (which imparts the extra probiotic benefits), there are many healthy reasons to indulge!

Before sharing an easy at-home pickling recipe, let’s take a look at some of the Chinese Medicinal aspects to the 2 basic pickling components: salt and vinegar

*Salt is a flavor that is associated with the kidneys, and in moderation can help with kidney function. It is known to help regulate water in the body, dissolve masses, counter toxins, and balance acidic food.

Speaking of acidic food…

*Vinegar is endowed with the ability to regulate blood, in that it both moves stagnant blood and helps to stop bleeding. And like salt, it helps to resolve toxins in the body.


Pickled Daikon Radish with Chinese Peppercorn & Garlic


1 small daikon
1 Tbsp salt
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon Chinese peppercorn
½ cup rice vinegar
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
Glass jar


  1. Wash and peel the daikon
  2. Cut the daikon radish into bite-size shapes of your choice
  3. Massage the salt into the freshly cut radish.
  4. Let them sit for 15-30 minutes while it draws out the bitter water. Rinse after 15 minutes.
  5. Arrange radish in a jar with some sliced garlic and chinese peppercorn dispersed in layers.
  6. Place the salt, sugar, vinegar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil
  7. Pour the hot mixture carefully into the jar until all the radishes are covered
  8. When cool, put on the lid and refrigerate

*you can eat them as soon as the next day, and they will last in the fridge for about 2-4 weeks.

While your mouth waters anticipating the flavor explosion you have just set yourself up for, take a moment to delight in the health benefits of the additional ingredients.

*Daikons reduce food stagnation and break up phlegm.
*Garlic is often used as an anti-pathogenic agent as it can help kill harmful bacteria, viruses, parasitic and fungal infections.
*Chinese Peppercorn is in the medicinal category of “warming the middle” meaning it supports the digestive fire.

Both the garlic and peppercorn are known to tonify yang in Chinese medicine. The combined warming qualities of the garlic and peppercorn are balanced by the cooling nature of the radish, making it safe for even hot constitutions. All in all, it’s balanced, healthy and tasty.

For nutritional approaches and snack suggestions more customized to your unique personal pattern, ask Heidi at your next visit, she is happy to help support you in all aspects of your health journey!

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