Agriculture is one of the primary industry in Akita that people harvest a lot of vegetables in autumn. Winter in Akita is very long that everything gets covered by snow from December to early April. Almost no vegetables can be harvested during winter. Therefore, people in Akita traditionally makes a lot of preserved food that they can enjoy them during long and cold winter.
Basics of Preserved Food
People make preserved food to stop them get rotten. There are two main ways to do that. The first one is to dry food. People put food into salt and then dry them. The second one is to ferment them. Akita has a traditional and unique way to ferment food just like making yogurt and alcohol to keep them good for long.
Iburigakko: Preserved Food in Akita
The popular preserved food in Akita are pickles. It is called “Gakko” in the local dialect. Iburigakko, which means smoked pickle is especially the famous one. Iburigakko is made by Japanese white reddish. Firstly, they hang radish inside to dry, and then to smoke. This can dry radish and also gives a nice and strong smell.
Then it’s time to ferment radish. Local people use rice bran to ferment. Rice bran is outside of rice that taken out in the process of polishing rice. They mix it with malted rice. Radish becomes Gakko after staying here.
How to eat “Iburigakko”
Traditionally, local people eat Iburigakko simply as pickles with rice for an ordinary meal. Iburigakko goes well with Japanese sake or white wine too. Today, it is getting popular to eat it with cream cheese. The combination of Iburigakko and cream cheese is now getting popular outside Akita too.