Lacto-Fermentin’

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:

  • lacto-fermented orange marmalade that was just as fresh by the time I ate my way to the bottom of the jar as it was when I made it.
  • beet kvass that, despite it’s oddity, my husband drinks without complaining - unlike the daily kefir and fermented cod liver oil I make him take.
  • fermented beets
  • fermented carrots
  • carrot kvass
  • ginger bug that we use to innoculate homemade soda or drink straight up as ginger ale.
  • Because beets are such a good toxin and liver cleanser we are drinking beet kvass heartily today. :) To your health in the New Year!

    6 Responses to Lacto-Fermentin’

    1. I saw your comment on Tigress’ post today about lacto-fermented marmalade. Totally intriguing! Thanks for putting a link to your post. Now I can read all about it!

    2. hey!
      i have a lovely recipe for fermented turnips over on tigressinapickle… check it out, i think you might like it!

      one of my goals this year is to ferment more, i had great luck with my first time fermenting sauerkraut recently.

    3. As soon as the turnips are ready this spring I will be trying that out! I love fermenting things. Wild yeast is so cool. the beet kvass has that alka selzer tongue tingle with a barely salt beet flavor that is not sweet at all. It’s really interesting! The fermented beets taste similar.

      I am dying to get the olives out of the crocks so I can start some saurkraut and kimchee but luckily my friend charlotte is nice enough to share her kraut with me and I can buy local organic fermented kimchee at PCC.

      Maybe you need to start a tigress can ferment blog now…

    4. Pingback: Saving Money by Eating Locally

    5. Would you like to share your soda recipes? I have a ginger bug that I’ve been keeping going; I made ginger beer which the hubby and I liked but the kids did not… but I wanted to try some other sodas and am looking for ideas.

    6. Hi Rebecca, we’ve done lemon, root beer and rhubarb soda: http://www.sustainableeats.com/2009/05/26/homemade-rhubarb-soda/ and there is a link in there for other flavors as well. I still have the ginger bug and am planning to make beer with it but it’s unclear to me if that is alcoholic at all. I remember in Jamaica it was. Do you know?

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