Preserving My Garden’s Glory through lacto-fermentation

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Note from Shannon: I am pleased to bring the voices of our lovely contributors to this space every Tuesday. Please welcome Janet, CFH Customer Service Rep & cultured kitchen-keeper.

Healthy addictions grow.  One of mine started when I was a child watching my Grandfather tend to his garden each night after work.  Back then; I remember thinking he was a bit crazy for spending so much time growing food for his family, from seed to harvest.  He grew everything from beans to corn and my favorite, apricots.  To this day I have yet to taste an apricot as good as his.

When starting my own family, the attention to health through food has steadily piqued my interest and with each passing season, I am adding something new to our food repertoire.   Ceasing our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription a few years back, we decided to go at it ourselves and hacked off half of our front lawn in order to create a veggie haven.

A haven for veggies creates a strong internal whisper calling “What do I do with all of these vegetables?”  Being a member of a family of four, I am regularly looking for solutions to that question without duplicating the same meals or giving away most of our rewards.

Enter lacto-fermented vegetables.  

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What a fabulous way to preserve the bounty without going through the canning process (which I dislike).  I prefer the old school way of salt with the addition of whey for added probiotic benefit. 

Starting in late spring I make “green” sauerkraut consisting of kale, beet tops, and swiss chard.  When the garlic and onion scapes arise, I like to store them as well, chopped in chunks so they are easy to put into salads.

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And one of the favorite on-the-go lunch options is our mixed veggies in a jar.  I take carrots, green beans, mushrooms, asparagus, cucumbers, and whatever else I grow, and ferment it into quart mason jars.  I also like adding garlic cloves and sprigs of herbs for extra flavor. I top the jars with glass weights so the tops of the vegetables are not peeking; which could lead to bad bacteria that could create mold.  Ferment for 3-4 days at room temperature and then place in the fridge.

This recipe for naturally cultured carrots is one I have been using a lot lately.

Whenever we need to round out a lunch or have snack, we just grab a jar and head out the door.  Viola!  Enjoy your bounty, whether it is from your own garden or from the farmer’s market and extend it into the winter months.  You will be glad you did!

Janet Creasy

Janet Creasy

Janet is primarily a proud mama of two tween girls and is married to a stellar man wired for engineering. She spends a great deal of time in the kitchen and garden. She enjoys the full life cycle of real food as primal fuel for our body; which she feels is critical to how we approach the world around us. She finds immense joy in seeing how many food culture ‘science’ projects she can keep going at one time! Her favorites are kombucha, yogurt and tempeh and she is delving currently into rice flour sourdough and water kefir.

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Comments

  1. Kathy says

    Hi! I’m wondering if you could help me? Whenever I try to ferment carrots (I also use whey in my ferments) they get a nail polish remover smell (acetone) & taste going on after only a few days of storage in the fridge. I can successfully ferment sauerkraut no problem & have had it last longer than a year in the fridge. I do use organic carrots. Do you know why this might be? The last receipt I tried were the GINGER CARROTS from Nourishing Traditions pg 95.

    • says

      Hi Kathy – I passed your question onto the lovely and talented Rosalyn who works as a Customer Support Representative and here’s what she had to say:

      The acetone smell in the carrots is usually from fermentation at too high a temperature. What’s happening is that the esters produced by the fermentation are building up faster than they can be dispersed. You can reduce the smell by lowering the culturing temperature a little, or burping the jar regularly (like a couple times a day).

      I note she’s talking about the acetone smell building up after a few days in the refrigerator. This could be from incomplete fermentation before refrigeration, with a resultant buildup of acetone in an anaerobic environment in the refrigerator. To solve this, she could try fermenting for a little longer before refrigeration to see if that helps.

  2. Amanda says

    What kind of glass weights do you use?
    Also it looks like you veggies are quite largely chopped… Do they produce enough brine to cover them? I’ve only ever made sour kraut but would like to try this! Is it possible to re use the extra brine from sour kraut to help cover the veg? I have a limited supply of whey! Thanks, beautiful garden

    • says

      Hi Amanda,

      You can find the glass weights here: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/glass-lacto-fermentation-weights.html

      The photos in the post are stock photos, meaning not necessarily ones that were taken strictly for this topic. That said, there are two main ways to prepare vegetables: self-brined or added brine.

      Sauerkraut self-brines through the process of salting and pounding. Cucumber pickles are an example of a vegetable that requires a brine. I like to make a brine of 1 quart of water : 2 Tablespoons fine sea salt. This can be used to top up any kraut type vegetables that haven’t created enough of their own brine, or as the brine on larger chunks of vegetables.

      You can use the brine from a previous batch of kraut or other ferments as a starter or as the brine for a newer batch of fermented veg. Whey can be used, but isn’t necessary. You can make fermented vegetables from just the vegetables, salt, and water as needed.

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