Hello and Happy August! I’m back in action after a three week blogging break. I tried not to think about blogging too much while I took some time away from my screen, but why is that when you purposefully tell your mind not to think about something it naturally goes there?
I’m glad to be back in the swing of things in the online world, although I learned through my blogging break that time off the computer is like a refreshing beverage on a hot day. Thirst-quenching and sublime!
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Enough housekeeping. Let’s get to today’s recipe!
Lacto-fermented vegetables sound like a scary science experiment, but they’re actually ridiculously easy to make.
Fermented foods—also called cultured foods— are rich in good bacteria. The microorganisms (probiotics) in fermented vegetables are incredibly beneficial for the health and integrity of the gut. Fermented vegetables support the immune system at a fraction of the cost of probiotic supplements. Especially for those with a history of food allergies or sensitivities, fermented vegetables are an excellent healing food to incorporate on a regular basis.
Fermentation can take many forms, but perhaps the simplest method is using a basic salt water brine to preserve the vegetables while still allowing for growth of beneficial organisms. Once fermentation is complete, the vegetables can be stored in the refrigerator for months!
I enjoy mine alongside just about anything—scrambled eggs, taco bowls, baked salmon, chili, and more. Enjoying a spoonful with meals aids in digestion and punches up the flavor.
A few tips and tricks:
- If you’re new to enjoying fermented foods, welcome! Introduce them gradually into your diet by consuming just 1-3 tablespoons per day in the beginning. This will give your digestive system a chance to become “friendly” with the new bacteria and reduce chance of an upset stomach.
- Use plastic lids for your jars instead of metal, as the acid and salt can corrode metal quickly.
- Keep fermenting foods out of direct sunlight.
- Every once in a while, though you may seem to do everything right, a batch of fermented vegetables just looks and tastes “off.” If your vegetables look or taste slimy or moldy, or if they have a very strong odor, discard them and start a new batch. They should smell and taste “sour” and briny, but it should not be overpowering. This happened to me once with green beans. The liquid looked pretty murky and the scent was stronger than usual. I tasted one and it just didn’t seem right, so I played it safe and discarded the batch. Use your best judgment!
Now’s the perfect time to start preserving the summer harvest. Grab some fresh produce and get fermenting with the recipe below. Enjoy!
- 2 (1-quart) wide-mouth glass jars with plastic lids
- 4 cups filtered water
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
- Chopped carrots
- Chopped cauliflower, broccoli, or both
- Chopped green cabbage
- Sliced cucumbers
- Cabbage leaves (for the top)
- Finely chopped garlic
- Chopped dill
- Chopped basil
- Clean and dry your jars and lids. In a glass measuring cup, dissolve the sea salt in the water. Set aside.
- Add your favorite combination of vegetables and flavorings (if using) to the jars. It doesn’t matter how you layer the ingredients. Just toss them in—it couldn’t be easier. Leave about an inch or so of room at the top of the jar.
- Stir the salt water mixture again. Then pour it over the vegetables in the jars, leaving ½-1 inch of space at the top. For each jar, fold a small cabbage leaf so that it fits snugly into the jar and press it into the salt water so that it is completely submerged and covers the vegetables. Screw the plastic lids on tightly to the jars. Place the jars in a container of some kind (I use a glass loaf pan) to catch any juices that may leak out during the fermentation process.
- Place the jars in a location out of direct sunlight. After 2 days undisturbed, begin to open the jars once a day to release any gasses. Quickly screw the lids back on the jars. This is called “burping.” You’ll likely see some bubbling throughout the fermentation process and may even hear it. This is normal.
- After 5-6 days, you can begin to taste the vegetables to see if you think they are tangy enough. I typically let my vegetables ferment for 7 days, but you can continue to ferment for 8, 9, or even 10 days until the desired flavor is reached. Once this happens, store your vegetables in the refrigerator where they will last for months…although I’ve never had a jar go longer than a month before I ate it all!
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