Picklefest 2008 was a huge success. Held at Machine Project in LA, the public was invited to bring their produce (grown in their garden, or purchased at farmers' markets or a supermarket) and pickle it using the lacto-fermentation process.
Back before the advent of canning and freezing, folks preserved their vegetable harvest via lacto-fermentation. This process, once commonplace, survives today mostly in the form of sauerkraut and kim-chi. These days, almost all store bought pickles and contemporary pickle recipes are vinegar-based. Lacto-fermented pickles contain no vinegar at all.Photos from Picklefest 2008
In lacto-fermentation, salt is added to vegetables, either by covering them in salty water or by mixing them with salt to draw out their own juices. Either way, the vegetable ends up stewing in salty liquid. Lactic microbial organisms (the same beasties that spoil milk) take hold in this environment and make it so acidic that bacteria that cause food to spoil can’t live there. The result is a pickled food that will keep without canning or refrigeration.
Lacto-fermented pickles are also full of beneficial bacteria that, like the bacteria in yogurt, are good for your gut and make food more digestible.