Lacto-fermentation : easy and healthy!
This summer, we had A LOT of fennels, zucchinis, and cabbages that we couldn’t sell. We decided to do something not to lose everything : lacto-fermentation for the winter coming. We are in January now, and we still can eat fresh good and bio summer veggies!
I invite you to try this process at home that is very easy, not risky at all (unlike tins) and very good for digestion and health in general.
Pour les français : la_lacto-fermentation
Fermentation is as old as life itself. At some point, humans learned to guide the process to repeat especially tasty results. These processes have been handed down and passed around, creating beloved foods and national dishes. The most familiar fermented foods are made using lacto-fermentation.
Most people think about beer or wine when they hear the term fermentation. While certain yeasts are used to convert the sugars in grape juice or grains into alcohol, it is bacteria that are responsible for lacto-fermentation. The “lacto” portion of the term refers to a specific species of bacteria, namely Lactobacillus. Various strains of these bacteria are present on the surface of all plants, especially those growing close to the ground, and are also common to the gastrointestinal tracts, mouths, and vaginas of humans and other animal species.
Lactobacillus bacteria have the ability to convert sugars into lactic acid. The Lactobacillus strain is so named because it was first studied in milk ferments. These bacteria readily use lactose or other sugars and convert them quickly and easily to lactic acid. However, lacto-fermentation does not necessarily need to involve dairy products.
Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. Beyond preservation advantages, lacto-fermentation also increases or preserves the vitamin and enzyme levels, as well as digestibility, of the fermented food. In addition, lactobacillus organisms are heavily researched for substances that may contribute to good health.
The diets of every traditional society have included some kind of lacto-fermented food. Europeans consume lacto-fermented dairy, sauerkraut, grape leaves, herbs, and root vegetables. The Alaskan Inuit ferment fish and sea mammals. The Orient is known for pickled vegetables, sauces, and kimchi in particular. Farming societies in central Africa are known for porridges made from soured grains.
Pickles and relishes are a part of the American food tradition. Since the advent of industrialization, most pickling is done with vinegar, which offers more predictable results, but no lactic acid. With just a little patience, instruction, and minimal supplies, it is possible to learn the time-honored art of lacto-fermentation.
The important thing is not to be intimidated by lacto-fermentation. Unless it smells unmistakably putrid (in which case common sense says throw it away), fermented foods are some of the safest foods. They are easy for even a beginner to prepare, and it doesn’t take long to gain enough confidence to venture beyond basic yogurt or sauerkraut to an endless variety of vegetables and fruits, beverages and more.
The method i chose to share here is : Salt-only Vegetable Fermentation
Historically, salt was used to preserve foods before refrigeration. We recommend salt-only fermented vegetables at CFH, for many reasons:
Salt pulls out the moisture in food, denying bacteria the aqueous solution they need to live and grow.
Salt allows the natural bacteria that exist on the vegetables to do the fermenting. Only the desired salt-tolerant Lactobacilli strains will live and propagate.
By suppressing the growth of other bacteria and mold, salt provides a slower fermentation process that is perfect for cultured vegetables that are to be stored for longer periods of time.
Salt hardens the pectins in the vegetables, leaving them crunchy and enhancing the flavor.
HOW TO FERMENT VEGETABLES
The equipment and ingredients
While fermenting vegetables does not require a lot of specialized equipment, using the appropriate equipment can make all the difference when getting started. From a good chopping knife to the right fermentation vessel, you’ll want to pick equipment to fit your needs. If you use old jars, wash them properly, and use new lids to be sure that it will be well closed.
Good veggies for the facto-fermentation are the one you can eat raw (carrots, beetroots, fennels, cabbages, radishes, salad, zucchinis, garlic, peppers, mushrooms, cucumbers… But you can also use peas, pumpkins, broad beans, green beans, onions…
You can use all sorts of plants and spices in the lacto-fermentation. It will taste better and add good active substances : thyme, coriander (leaves and seeds), pepper, savory, mustard seeds, mint…
Garlic and pepper(chili) contribute to avoid rot.
Water used should be as free from contaminants as possible, for the best-tasting fermented vegetables. Source water is the best (not in bottle), but if you use tape water, you can leave it for one night or boil it few minutes in order to make evaporate the chorine.
Sea salt is recommended for its minerals and trace elements.
1 / Prepare the vegetables for fermenting
There are several ways to prepare the vegetables for fermenting: grating, shredding, chopping, slicing, or leaving whole. How you choose to prepare your vegetables is a personal choice, though some vegetables are better suited for leaving whole, while others ferment better when shredded or grated.It’ important to use natural vegetables. If you use vegetables grown with chemical products, there is much more chance that the lacto-fermentation doesn’t work. Big pieces will make that the preparation is less acid because they will liberate less sugar.
2 / Prepare the salty water (30 gr of salt for 1 liter of water)
3 / Put the vegetables in the jar (the vegetables has to be compressed in the jar)
4 / Add the salty water in the jar, and cram again the vegetables in a way that there is no air bubbles inside.
5 / Close the jars, but not completely, and put it for 3 days in a pretty hot place ( ideal is 18/22 °C , not less than 15°C and not more than 25°C).
6 / After 3 days close it properly and put it in a colder place (cave for exemple). The best is that the temperature is under 10°C, but if it’s not the case, it’s not dramatic, the preparation will just be a bit more acid. Low temperature for the storage is good to keep sugars that give taste.
Rot is often due to too hight or too low temperatures at the beginning or during the storage, or vegetables that are out of the salty water. To avoid this, you can put a stone on the top of the vegetables. You immediately smell it when you open the jar if it’s rotted. This is why it’s a non risky process.
Minimum is two weeks, and you can leave it like this for several months (even more than one year!)