Nuka Pickles

May 17 2013 by Sjon Welters  |  no comments yet

Rhapsody rice ready for harvestNuka? What’s that and what can I do with it?

What a great question! Nuka is the Japanese word for rice bran. When brown rice is “polished” to make a whiter rice, every grain of rice is slowly rubbed so that some of the outside bran comes off. What you are left with is a sawdust like substance that is the rice bran, aka nuka. Nuka has many uses, one being making pickles.

Rice bran (nuka)



2.5 lbs Rhapsody rice bran (nuka)
½ – 1 ½ cup salt (about 15-25% of the rice bran)
5 cups water

Roast the rice bran over a low flame until it gives off a pleasant nutty flavor and the color has turned a darker gold. Let it cool to room temperature.

Boil the water with the salt and let it also cool.

Mix the liquid with the bran and put it in a crock pot or other non-reactive container. Some say that mixing by hand is essential to get the fermentation process going. Live organisms in the air might take longer to really get in there to do their job. Wait a few days before putting your first vegetables in the mash so the fermentation can get started properly.

Next push cleaned and washed vegetables into the paste. In general, the firmer the vegetable the longer the pickle time. Chinese cabbage or sliced cucumber, for instance, can be eaten the next day, but experiment with the length of time you leave anything in the paste and the flavor they develop. If you have the time and patience, dry some vegetables ahead of time like daikon, radishes, carrots, or watery vegetables to reduce the amount of liquid going into the paste.


Stir daily, especially during the warmer months, to add oxygen and keep a friendly fermentation going.

Every time you take a pickle out add some roasted bran and salt to replace what has been taken out. You can keep going like this for years, but it requires care and attention.

Don’t leave vegetables in too long as they tend to acidify the paste.


When the paste become too runny soak some old, dry pieces of bread in it, or if it is really wet drain it in cheesecloth.

You can hold the pickling paste over when not in use, for quite a while actually, by draining the liquid and adding several tablespoons salt to prevent spoilage. Also sprinkle salt on top to prevent mold growth. Leave the crock in the refrigerator and cover with a heavy object.


MISO: As a variation you can add miso to the paste to introduce other enzymatic activity and add flavor. The younger lighter miso lend themselves very well for this. They impart a new sweetness and depth of flavor to the pickles. Simply add several tablespoons of miso to the mix. Make sure you use unpasteurized miso if you want to benefit from the live culture these miso contain.

BREAD: Sourdough bread, from San Francisco to dark rye, will also add its own benefits. New flavors and microorganisms that can surprise you.

ADDED NUTRITIENTS, FLAVORING, AND MICROORGANISMS: By adding eggshells, garlic, ginger, flavorful seeds and spices, and kelp or dulse, even (dried) fruit, a little wine or beer.

Filed under: Nuka, Pickles, Recipes, Rice
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