Japanese pickles, Tsukemono are an important part of the Japanese diet. They are served with practically every traditional meal alongside rice and miso soup. They are valued for their unique flavors and commonly used as a garnish, relish, condiment, palate cleanser or digestive.
Tsukemono first appeared way back in Japanese history in the days before refrigeration when pickling was used to preserve food. As a result, some traditionally prepared types of pickles can be kept practically indefinitely. The different methods used to make tsukemono vary from a simple salting or vinegar brining, to more complicated processes involving cultured molds and fermentation.
All kinds of vegetables and some fruits are used to make tsukemono including, but not limited to, Japanese radish (daikon), cucumber, eggplant, carrot, cabbage, water lily root, ginger, shallots and plums (ume). Sometimes seaweed and other seafood are added to pickle mixtures for flavor and variety. Some pickling methods are also used to preserve and flavor seafood and meat dishes.