Do you know why lacto-fermentation is so cool?
Well, it's simple, easy, fun, and makes fabulous food to boot!
But that's not all…
Traditionally, it's how food was preserved — without freezers or canning machines. Through the process of fermentation, the salt and/or why inhibits growth of putrefying bacteria until enough lactic acid is produced to preserve the vegetables for many months.
And, the lactobacilli which produce lactic acid do much more! They enhance digestibility of the vegetables, increase vitamin levels, produce enzymes, offer antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic substances, and support the growth of healthy flora in our intestines.
All this just from natural pickling! Compare that to today's storebought pickles, which offer nothing but pasteurized vegetables floating in an acidic brine of white vinegar.
Check out Nourishing Traditions, page 89, for more information about all of this!
To make lacto-fermented foods properly, start with the highest quality vegetables, sea salt, and homemade whey (optional in purely vegetable recipes). You also need quart-size canning jars with metal bands and lids, preferably wide mouth. (Even so, I have been having good success with regular-mouth jars.)
Lacto-Fermented Turnips and Beets
Adapted from the Pickled Turnips recipe from Nourishing Traditions, page 99.
You will need:
- naturally-grown turnips, peeled, quartered and sliced
- naturally-grown beets, peeled, quartered and sliced
For each jar full of peeled, quartered and sliced turnips and beets (fill the jar up to within 1-inch of the top), you will need:
- 1 cup pure water + 1 tablespoon sea salt OR 1 cup pure water + 1/2 tablespoon sea salt + 4 tablespoons homemade whey (dripped out of kefir or yogurt, or from raw cheese-making)
- additional pure water
Peel, quarter, and slice the turnips and beets. Mix them up to incorporate. Then fill as many quart jars as necessary to use up all prepared vegetables. Press down on the veggies to make sure they're packed in well and don't fill up higher than within 1-inch of the top.
How many jars did you fill? Use that information to determine how many cups of water with sea salt — OR water with sea salt and whey — you need.
Mix the sea salt and water (and/or whey) together so the salt is mostly dissolved. If using water and sea salt, add 1 cup to each jar. If using water and sea salt with whey, add 1-1/4 cups to each jar. Then top off each jar with more pure water to cover the vegetables.
Put the lids and bands on the jars and tighten securely. Leave on the counter in a warm room (usually the kitchen) for about 3 days. The process of the lactobacilli‘s proliferation should take about 3 days when the room temperature is 72 degrees Fahrenheit. You will know the process is working because the mixture in the jar will be very bubbly. Then transfer the jars to cold storage until you are ready to eat them.
If this ends up too salty, soaking the veggies in water for a time draws off the salt, making them tasty. One could also use less salt, but experimentation would be necessary — you still need enough salt to suppress the putrefying bacteria.
I usually serve our pickled vegetables topped on a green salad, or as a side with a cold cut type of meal (meat salad, bread, and cheese). These veggies taste bubbly, spicy, and fresh, while offering a great crisp and crunch. I love them!
Do you lacto-ferment your veggies?
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