Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Easy Fermented Vegetables

From left to right: 1) Daikon and beets (grated) 2) Red cabbage, cauliflower, zucchini and carrots chopped in pieces and 3) Grated carrots (1 lb or so) and an inch of ginger 
Lacto-fermenting vegetables is an old way of preserving food from times before refrigerators and freezers. Fermented food can keep for a long time. That is not the only reason to ferment your foods though. Fermented food has probiotics, added nutrition and it digests better because of the enzymes they contain. The taste is pretty good too. Try it, you'll love it. And no, it is not difficult or complicated. It didn't take me long at all to put together these three beautiful jars tonight (although I did have my husband grate the vegetables).

Did you know that many of the condiments you eat that have vinegar in them used to be fermented just with salt and water? Using vinegar is a short cut. The modern food industry doesn't have time for fermentation unfortunately. But I promise, when you start eating traditionally fermented foods, you'll notice that they taste so much better than the vinegary olives, pickles and condiments. You can even make fermented ketchup and mustard, they taste wonderful!

Fermented vegetables


Vegetables- you can use basically any vegetables: carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, beets, zucchini, turnips, daikon...

Spices (optional) - cloves, ginger, garlic, dill...

Salt water (3 tablespoons or 25 grams of good quality salt - I use Himalayan pink salt - diluted in a liter which is a little more than a quart of water).

Whey or liquid from a previous ferment (optional)

1. Chop the vegetables or grate them, put them in a jar and press them tightly down in a Mason jar, a fermenting crock, a Picklit fermenting jar or something similar. Fill the jars little lower than to the shoulder. Leave a little bit of space for the weight and brine.

2. Pour salt water over the vegetables. To fasten the process you can add whey in the salt water (if you are not sensitive to dairy) or some liquid from a previous ferment (I used my sauerkraut liquid). All the vegetables should be under the brine in anaerobic conditions to avoid them from molding or going bad.

You'll need some sort of weight to keep them down. Picklit jars come with glass weights that are super handy. I sometimes put still carrot sticks under the weight to keep all the vegetable pieces under water. For a weight you can also fill a plastic bag with water, use a small plate or a small jar or even washed rocks (I have used rocks and plates when making salted wild mushrooms before). I have even heard people use a clean piece of wood. One trick if you are using cabbage (this works for sauerkraut too) is to save some of the outer leaves, cut it a little bigger than the mouth of the jar and put it on top of the vegetables pressing the edges tightly down to the sides to keep everything down. This works only if you have the vegetables in the jar very tightly. You can use a wooden spoon or something similar to press.

3. Close the lid when you've made sure everything stays under the brine. Attach the airlock (with water) if using and ferment in a dark place for at least 4 days. Then put them to the fridge to continue fermenting. I have heard of people keeping them out for 10-14 days. I keep my fermented cucumbers out for 10 days and sauerkraut too. These ones I will try with the 3-4 day method as they have a starter too.

4. Always inspect and  smell the ferments before eating them. taste a little piece to see if they are ready and good to eat. Your senses will tell you if something has gone wrong with the fermentation process. It has happened to me a couple of times but most often the ferment has been just fine and very delicious too.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask in the comment section or via the contact form on the right side of the blog. Good luck!


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