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Fermenting Foods Part 1
Fermentation - Part 1
This summer a few readers asked about fermented foods. My apologies for such a tardy response (you know who you are), and you have every right if you toast me forever as a reliable source for anything!
Now get to it.
The fermenting process is one I enjoy dabbling with: mostly yogurt and sauerkraut. This summer I tried a new experiment: lacto-fermenting veggies, using produce from my first-year fledging garden.
Credits for the instructions go to Whole Life Nutrition, a source I am grateful to for their inspiration to have fun "playing around" with different tastes, using what you have available.
What You Will Need:
- glass quart jar with a plastic lid
- salt brine - with a ratio of 1-1.5 Tbsp. sea salt to 2 cups water (filtered water is recommended - chlorine can inhibit the growth of beneficial bacteria, not to mention it's not particularly healthy for us)
- chopped raw organic vegetables: e.g. cauliflower, beets, bell peppers, turnips, broccoli, onions, green beans, garlic, etc.
- cabbage leaves (for the top)
- combination of herbs and spices: e.g. dried chili peppers, black peppercorns, bay leaf, fresh dill or tarragon
- salt brine using this ratio: 1 - 1.5 Tbsp. sea salt dissolved in 2 cups water
What to Do:
- put your combination of vegetables into a glass jar (or a ceramic crock if you're so lucky to have one)
- add a few layers of herbs and spices. Tip: if using peppercorns put them at the bottom of the jar so they don't float to the top.
- leave about an inch at the top of the jar
- cover with the salt brine, leaving about 1/2 inch where you place a folded cabbage leaf and press into the brine. This helps keep the vegetables fully submerged with the water floating on the top.
- cover with a plastic lid (metal ones can become corroded by the salt and acids)
- screw the lid on - not too tight, to leave space for gasses to release
- place jars in a rectangular container to catch any drips that might happen and set in an undisturbed spot on your kitchen counter - out of direct sunlight
Wait and taste:
- after 5 days, taste your veggies to see how soured they are - you'll probably want to leave them more like 7 or 8. Fermenting takes longer in the cooler months, less time in the summer.
- total sitting time is according to your taste - there's no set, scientific formula when working with fermented foods
- once the veggies are soured, remove the cabbage leaf and store jar(s) in the refrigerator - where your fermented veggies will keep for months.
I made the following two combinations: each one was a 2-litre jar.
1 Tbsp peppercorns
few garlic cloves
sprigs of fresh dill
1 Tbsp peppercorns
Each jar sat on the cupboard for 8 days.
Initially I didn't care for the turnip combination: I think because the tarragon flavour over-powered the summer turnip, which has a milder flavour than the winter variety. However, after sitting in the fridge for a few weeks, I'm liking it more.
I still prefer the beets one the best, although I would add more garlic and some hot peppers next time.
Will I dabble around with this more? Definitely. I'll try different combinations, probably add more garlic, choose my herbs carefully and cut the veggies smaller - small-diced, not chunky like in the picture.
These lacto-fermented veggies are handy additions to a salad, or mixed with grains and greens, or whatever way suits your eating fancy.
And oh yes: fermented foods are healthy for your inner "ecosystem". Improve digestion, stimulate the liver, and help control sugar cravings.
My next fermenting schedule is making kimchi and a kraut using cabbage and other vegetables that are ground or finely sliced.
To be continued .... Fermentation Part 2 - I promise.