I attended a workshop on fermentation of winter storage crops last weekend and I’m diving in with both feet. What a fantastic and simple way to preserve the root vegetables, cabbage and winter greens you might be tired of eating right about now. I’m already a convert to the health benefits of eating and drinking (Kombucha) fermented foods with all their healthy probiotics. I recommend reading about it more if you are new to the idea. Kimchi is of course the most famous fermented vegetable condiment and you can also just be making these for the taste.
I’ve got sliced water melon radish and carrot, parsnip, black radish “Kim Chi” going right now.
-Sliced chucks of vegetables need to go in a brine, grated and finely shredded vegetables are massaged with sea salt and release their own juices to then make the liquid needed for fermentation.
– Brine = 1 tablespoon of sea salt to quart of water and 1 tablespoon of yogurt whey. Plus anything you want to add for flavor.
– IMPORTANT – Tap water used to make brine must be left out 24 hours so that the chlorine will off gas. Otherwise the chlorine will kill of the probiotics you wants to form.
-The liquid whey from your organic plain yogurt helps as an additive when making a brine to get the healthy bacteria going.
-1 Quart Jar = 2lb shredded veg = 1 Tablespoon sea salt
This is a somewhat low salt approach and even lower salt content can be used with the addition of a Tablespoon of the yogurt whey.
-Yogurt whey also helps with high sugar content vegetables like beets and carrots, that can tend to go to fast into alcoholic fermentation.
– Pack very tightly with fist into jar so that all air bubbles are pushed out – no oxygen is the key to growing the healthy bacteria only. Put the lid on jar somewhat loosely. Use a glass weight or a small glass jar to help keep vegetables pressed under the liquid, although not nessesary. I’ve just been checking my liquid level every couple of days.
-Put away in a corner where it’s 60-70 degrees, on a tray to catch liquid that will bubble out. Most vegetables are done in 7-10 days . Taste daily to see if it’s “done” for your tastes.
-Always make sure everything is submerged under liquid, mold will form on anything that is allowed to touch oxygen. That mold can just be scraped away and you can keep going.
– A tip for keeping chunks of vegetables crisp in this process is adding a grape or oak leaf.
For “Kim Chi” Style condiment I grated two pounds of mixed carrots parsnips and black radish, added 2 diced jalapenos, a big thumb of diced ginger, 5 cloves of garlic, 4 shakes of fish sauce and 1 healthy tablespoon of Applewood smoked sea salt.
Massage the veg, minus the hot peppers until lots of liquid has releases, about 5 minutes. Add in the hot peppers and pack into your jar.
A clean jar is necessary but no stealization is needed as in canning. A great use for reusing jars.
A recommended book on the topic is Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz