How often do you throw away fruits and veggies that have gone rotten in the fridge? For me, it’s way too often. This is one of the reasons I am becoming more active in preserving my food. Drying, jamming, and freezing are all methods I have used that, in the end, save me time and money. Lately I have become more interested in lacto-fermentation. It sounds intimidating but is immensely easy and healthy. To learn more about fermentation, I recently interviewed Chef Ernest Miller, the Master Food Preserver at The Farmer’s Kitchen.
There are only 3 ingredients required for a basic lacto fermentation; salt, water and vegetables. You can also add spices to the mixture to give more flavor and color. Simple lacto-fermentation involves cutting your vegetables (some people crush them to release juices), adding your spices, mixing, stuffing the mixture into a clean ball jar, and pouring brine over the top. After that, it is just a matter of letting the healthy bacteria do its job (see below for a simple starter fermentation recipe from Chef Miller).
One of the most intriguing aspects of fermenting to me is the nutrient boost the food gets. According to Chef Miller, it is even better that eating the vegetables raw because the fermentation process adds vitamins and minerals, numerous beneficial enzymes, and probiotics that aid in digestion. Your veggies actually get healthier! And they last up to 6 months. Almost any vegetable can be fermented – I love the creative aspect of combining vegetables and various herbs and spices!
To get started, try fermenting beets, onion, garlic, carrots, ginger, peppers, beans and cabbage – alone or in various combinations. Add herbs like ginger, dill, basil, and oregano and try spices like red pepper flakes, mustard, and caraway seeds. Get creative! You will love the results.
Stay tuned to the Pure website and Facebook page next week for the launch of my video on fermentation with Chef Miller.
Farmer’s Kitchen Basic Vegetable Fermentation Recipe –yields 1 qt.
- .5 oz. canning, pickling, kosher or sea salt
Spices are optional and may be changed to suit your tastes:
- 1.5 tsp. caraway seed
- 1.5 tsp. yellow mustard seed
- 1 tsp. celery seed
- 1.5 lbs. cabbage, shredded (about 1 head of red cabbage or choose another vegetable)
Procedure: Trim or chop vegetables. Toss with salt and spices. Pack firmly into a clean jar. Be sure the cabbage is deep enough so that the jar rim is at least 4 or 5 inches above the cabbage. Place a clean weight on the cabbage (like a small jar) to keep the cabbage submerged under the brine. Add brine (1 oz. of salt to 1 quart of water). Cover the jar with a clean dishtowel or paper towel and secure with a rubber band or twine. Store at 70º to 80ºF while fermenting in a cool place out of direct sunlight.
At temperatures between 70º and 80ºF, kraut will be fully fermented in about 2 to 3 weeks; at 60º to 65ºF, fermentation may take 5 to 6 weeks. At temperatures lower than 60ºF, kraut may not ferment. Above 80ºF, kraut may become soft. Fully fermented kraut may be kept tightly covered in the refrigerator for several months.