Tsukemono is preserved food that vegetables (fish or meat, sometimes) are pickled together with pickling ingredients having high osmotic pressure, having an effect to decrease hydrogen-ion exponent or having an effect to shut off from the air such as salt, vinegar, rice-bran paste, soy sauce, sake lees or fat and oil, to improve preservation quality as well as to improve taste and flavor by maturing. It often involves fermentation such as lactic fermentation, and consequently the improvement of preservation quality and eating quality by the fermentation.
Tsukemono with fermentation is fermented by the lactic bacterium naturally attached to the ingredients and the sugars included in the ingredients, which enhance the quality of preservation, taste and flavor; moreover, sugars as ground substances for fermentation can be increased by adding rice malt, and the oxygen reaction needed to improve taste and flavor can be induced by the enzyme contained in rice malt. Many others, however, don't use fermentation in their respective processes, such as Asazuke, Senmaizuke, Matsumaezuke and Satozuke, so it is incorrect to classify tsukemono simply as a fermented food.
Many of them emit a strong aroma due to fermentation.
Therefore, it is also called 'Konomono (smelly thing)' or 'Oshinko (new smelly thing).'
It is called 'gakko,' a corrupted word of 'gako (elegant aroma),' in regions such as Akita Prefecture.
Most Japanese tsukemono use controlled fermentation via lactic bacterium so as not to be too sour, but some of them--including Shibazuke and Suguki--have a strong, sour taste. The sauerkraut of Germany is of the same sort.
With sufficient lactic fermentation, the technique of tsukemono is efficient not only for vegetables but also for the preservation of animal matter, which is classified together with nare-zushi. It includes Funa-zushi, Hatahata-zushi and the Eskimo Kiviak. The word 'sushi' in "Funa-zushi" originally meant such preserved food using grain (including cooked rice) as the carbohydrate (i.e., the fermentation substance), but the type to put fish on vinegared rice has emerged only recently as "instant sushi."
Nukazuke such as Takuwan-zuke or Nukamiso-doko is seen as an extension of the technique for making use of grain of nare-zushi as a substance of lactic fermentation; 'Heshiko' in Hokuriku and 'Kasu Nishin' in Hokkaido are seen as being in between.
Ama-gun, Aichi PrefectureKayazu-jinja Shrine, which enshrines Kayanohime as the only goddess of tsukemono in Japan, is located in Jimokuji-cho (Aichi Prefecture). Tsukemono traders across the country visit the shrine on the day of the 'Konomono Festival,' which is held on August 21 each year.
The Tsukemono Association has designated the 21st of each month as 'Tsukemono Day.'
Satozuke can be classified as a type of tsukemono due to its preservative qualities, but it can also be classified as a confectionery or a confectionery ingredient (not tsukemono) due to the method by which it is made and its uses. Aburazuke, as typified by tuna and anchovy, can also be classified as tsukemono in a broad sense.
Salted rice malt
Pickled scallions (Amazuzuke, Shoyuzuke)
Pickles Outside Japan
Kiviak (by Inuit in Canada and Alaska, U.S.A.)
Kimchi (Republic of Korea and Democratic People's Republic of Korea)
Zha cai (China)
Pickles (U.S.A., U.K. and others)