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November 2016

Featured Recipes

Fermentation

November 7, 2016

Fermentation is an ancient process of food preservation and has existed in every society and culture we have record of.

Fermenting vegetables begins with lacto-fermentation (lactic-acid bacteria also known as probiotics). The lactic acid bacteria work with the naturally occurring yeasts to break down and preserve the food.  Lactic acid is a natural preservative that hinders the growth of harmful bacteria and enhances the nutrient content of the food. Lacto-fermentation increases the vitamin and enzyme levels of the food and makes the raw food easier to digest.  

Fermenting Vegetables

When it comes to fermenting vegetables there are three things that really matter:

  1. Water: the quality of the water matters. Use filtered water, if you do not have a filter fill a bowl with water and let sit uncovered overnight, the impurities will evaporate
  2. Salt: use salt that is free from anti-caking agents, I prefer sea salt. How to tell if your salt has anti-caking agents on it? Read the ingredients.
  3. Vegetables: try to use the freshest most organic vegetables that are free from chemicals

Making a Brine

Sometimes you will need a brine to ferment your vegetables, and can most of the time salt to taste. If your vegetables aren’t naturally water producing like say carrots you’ll need to make a brine.

A good rule of thumb is a {5% salinity brine}:        

3 tbsp sea salt  :  1 quart filtered water

Weighing Down the Vegetables

Fermenting is an anaerobic process therefore the vegetables must stay submerged. Sometimes your product will stay submerged on its own, or when it doesn’t  you can use a cabbage leaf or pickling weights.

Time

How long your product will take to ferment will vary. There is no set amount of time but you should let it sit for at least 3-5 days. You can start tasting after day 3 and then keep tasting until your pallet is satisfied.  

Homemade Sauerkraut

 

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Grab a common cabbage, sea salt, mason jar (or crock), a large bowl, knife AND your hands! 

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Add 1 TB of Celtic Sea Salt to 1 head of cabbage. Then, begin massaging your shreds of cabbage until it is slightly tender with lots of juice. You can add ginger, turmeric, other spices or vegetables (see below! I added juice pulp). Fill a mason jar OR a fermenting crock if you have one to use. Whether you’re using mason jar or crock, you will need a weight to sit on top of the cabbage. 

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If you’re using a crock:
 Keep the crock in a warm area (68-72 degrees) for the first couple days and then move it to a cooler area (59-64 degrees) for the rest of the time. NOTE: you can ferment your sauerkraut for a minimum of three days. Be sure to add the salt water mixture to the seal when it runs low.  

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After 2 weeks you can open the crock to skim off any layer of mold or bubbles (don’t worry, it’s natural) and add more salt water mixture to the original level. NOTE: the longer you wait, the stronger the sauerkraut gets! 

img_4577If you’re using a mason jar: Allow it to sit and some of the natural water from the cabbage should rise. If necessary, add some of the cooled salt water until the top of the cabbage is submerged 1 inch. You can then use a great device called, KrautSource OR use a larger mason jar and place a smaller jar filled with rocks as a weight to keep the cabbage well packed. Check out The Art of Fermentation for more reading. 

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Lacto-Fermented Pickles

To make pickles you first have to make your own whey by straining yogurt in cheesecloth over a bowl overnight. The liquid that has separated, the whey, is the key ingredient to making your pickles.

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Next you add 4 tablespoons of whey, 1 tablespoon of non-­‐iodized salt, 2 teaspoons of seasoning of your choice and sliced cucumbers together in a mason jar. Be sure that your salt has color, such as pink sea salt! Then just fill it up with purified water to cover the top of the cucumbers and top it off with the lid. Be sure to use water without chlorine. Put the jar in an open container to prevent a mess from what takes place next.

This is when the lacto-­fermentation begins! First the bad bacteria are killed off because they are no match for the salt. The good bacteria, also known as lactobacillus, survive, multiply and get to work. They convert lactose and other sugars into lactic acid, which preserves the cucumbers.

Preserving your vegetables this way provides many health benefits. According to http://www.culturesforhealth.com, “Lactic acid also promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestinal tract. That is why lacto-fermented foods are considered probiotic foods.”

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If your pickles are not turning out right here is some troubleshooting advice. The room temperature could have been too hot during the fermentation process. It is best to lacto-ferment veggies right after picking. You can also add grape leaves to help keep that delicious crutch! Be sure to read the labels of your ingredients.

Special thank you to Alie Romano, a chef specializing in fermented foods who held a guest workshop at The Local Juice.

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with love