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For years, I’d resisted the urge to start my own nuka-pickle pot.

Although a great fan of nukazuke, those idiosyncratically earthy pickles fermented in rice-bran paste, I had concluded that the task of caring for the pickling medium was a responsibility best left to others. The nukadoko (pickling bed) is a living organism, one that requires constant monitoring to guard against spoilage. It must be aerated by hand daily to discourage mold, topped up with a mixture of fresh rice bran and salt once a month, and used — frequently — to maintain a careful balance of microbes. For someone cursed with a black thumb (cacti have perished on my watch), the challenges are considerable.

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