The traditional pickling process used by the Japanese is technically known as "lactic acid fermentation," one of nature's oldest and safest ways of preserving food. The key to good pickling is the early establishment of lactic acid-forming bacteria before other bacteria have a chance to multiply. The latter, which can spoil pickling vegetables, cannot tolerate the high acidity produced by lactic acid bacteria or the high salt concentration used in most pickling methods. To help establish beneficial bacteria, traditional makers use enough salt and mix it well, and store developing pickles in a cool place (4-18° C. is ideal).
Although roots such as ginger, carrots and Japanese radish (daikon) are the most commonly used vegetables in Japanese pickling, other vegetables such as cucumber, burdock, eggplant and even flowers are sometimes used. The key to making crisp, flavorful pickles, such as Mitoku's Takuan and Sushi Pickles, is using fresh, clean vegetables, adding just enough high quality salt, and creating a very high acidity before the vegetables start to spoil.