So you’d think after canning, fermenting or drying what really does appear to be enough fruit, pickle and condiment stores to last us all year I’d be done with my canner.
Not so. It’s still at the ready as I’m not done yet. We did eat all the pickled beets already but I purposefully held off on making a ton of them since I was planning for a large fall crop of beets that didn’t materialize. Last week I bought a huge bag of Detroit Red beets from Nash’s Organic and pickled them this week. I’ve got a fella who just can’t do without ‘em. It *might* have something to do with the fact that he’s 6, way into potty humor and loves the fact that the next day their dark red color graces the toilet. Whatever motivation he needs to eat them I’m fine with.
Because water canning takes up a lot of water and destroys approximately 35% of the nutrients right off the bat, however, I prefer to lacto-ferment veggies wherever possible. Last fall I made some pickled beets and some beet kvass. They’re ready now and we are digging them.
In case you were wondering, historically the difference between pickled foods and food pickles is vinegar or salt. Fermented foods were called pickled [insert food name] while the process of soaking in salt or vinegar brine made it [insert food name] pickles. Salt and vinegar help destroy bad bacteria (and in fact all bacteria) that can spoil the food. Fermenting takes a different approach. It encourages good bacteria so that bad bacteria doesn’t have a chance to take over and spoil the food. And it actually can increase the nutrients and enzymes in the food.
Ocean-going crews throughout history have carried fermented foods with them to help stave off things like scurvy because fermenting actually makes the nutrients easier for your body to absorb, in addition to preserving the food.
So to sum up…canning destroys friendly bacteria, nutrients and enzymes. Fermenting increases nutrients and enzymes. Both preserve the food.
The only downside to fermenting that I can think of is the amount of cold storage space you need. Although they are preserved, you will see marked spoilage if you don’t keep the foods cool. Once they are fermented I store mine in the second refrigerator in the basement.
You probably already have some experience with fermented foods. Some of my favorite are deli style dill pickles, saurkraut and kim chee. But this year I’ve added some new ones. I’ve got an inquisitive mind and when I read about things that seem unusual or unlikely I just have to try them.
Last year’s gems that I’m chomping at the bit to repeat include:
Because beets are such a good toxin and liver cleanser we are drinking beet kvass heartily today. To your health in the New Year!