So I’ve discussed the process of lacto-fermentation and the enormous health benefits from consuming these probiotic and nutrient rich foods, beginning with the lacto-fermentation of dairy here. Now for the equally beneficial, very simple (and cost effective) process of fermenting vegetables…
Sally Fallon from Nourishing Traditions…
“The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.”
How to lacto-ferment vegetables?
I have to start with a confession. I actually have limited experience fermenting. I have made quite a few batches with great success and I share with you my method below (actually it’s most people’s method, nothing original here). However, I very much welcome any additional tips, tricks or even links to recipes (post a comment below so everyone can learn from you).
I sometimes buy fermented vegetables from my local health food store. Though a word of warning when buying them…many supermarket sauerkraut or Kim chi are actually just pickled vegetables and not actually lacto-fermented at all (and therefore have none of the previously explained benefits). Once you make it yourself, you’ll never look back – it’s sort of addictive.
The process of fermenting vegetables is ridiculously simple, I can’t believe I’ve resisted this for so long. Choose your veggies, either just one or a combination of vegetables. Root vegetables (carrot, sweet potato, radish, daikon), cabbage, garlic, ginger and cauliflower work best.
Basically, you need to scald a large mason jar (the pickling jars with the rubber sealed lids), by washing it well then running boiling water over it.
This recipe is a good, simple starting point for homemade Probiotic Carrot Sticks…
Probiotic Carrot Sticks
- 750 gram (approx) carrots, peeled and cut into sticks (if they are little you might like to leave them whole, up to you)
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 4 -5 tablespoons whey (you can omit this, see my notes below**)
- Filtered water (I used 200ml, how much depends on the size of the jar you are using)
Note: it is best to invest in organic ingredients as the chemicals on conventional produce may interfere with the fermentation process (good bugs don't grow well with chemicals).
- Sterilise your jar/ weights with boiling water.
- Mix the salt and whey if you are using it in water until combined.
- Wedge the carrots into a mason jar and pour over the water mixture to the brim.
- If your veggies aren't firmly wedged in and float to the surface, weigh them down with a ceramic or glass weight. Alternatively a bag filled with water also acts as a good weight.
- Place the lid firmly and store undisturbed for 7-21 days (during summer/ warmer internal temps less time is needed to ferment, winter more, unless your house is heated).
- It's best not to open the lid during the first 7 days of fermenting (only open to taste/ check the ferment). Make sure your utensils are clean (run under boiling water) so as to not contaminate the ferment.
- After about 7-21 days they are good to go and you can store them in a cool place or on the top shelf of the fridge. They will continue to ferment, but at a much slower rate so don't be too alarmed if the taste changes a little.
- If using my fermenting pot, I transfer my veggies and brine into a jar to store.
- You might like to add some seasoning. Garlic, ginger, peppercorns, chili. Herbs like caraway seeds or cumin seeds
Replacing the whey with a probiotic capsuleI have done this and they have worked our just the same as using the whey.
Not sure if they 'look' rightMy probiotic carrots often have a white scum on top and the liquid is very cloudy, especially the longer they ferment. This is quite normal.
What do they taste like?They taste pickled or vinegary, more so the longer they ferment. The carrots also become softer the longer they ferment. I prefer to leave them in larger pieces so they still are a little firm to eat at the end of the ferment.
If they've been contaminatedAt first, I was really concerned that I might poison myself and my family.
However according to Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions, "Some lacto-fermented products may get bubbly, particularly the chutneys. This is natural and no cause for concern. And do not be dismayed if little spots of white foam appear at the top of the pickling liquid. They are completely harmless and can be lifted off with a spoon. The occasional batch that goes bad presents no danger as the smell will be so awful that nothing could persuade you to eat it."
In the lunchboxMy kids absolutely love these in their school lunchbox. If you're after lots more lunchbox ideas, my best selling ebook 'The Well Nourished Lunchbox' has 150 pages of recipes and inspo. Click HERE to find out more. ** Whey is the liquid left remaining when you strain yoghurt (often it will separate in the pot with some firmer natural yoghurts. Make labne (cultured cream cheese) and use the whey to ferment vegetables. You can find my whey recipe here. If you don't have whey, add another tablespoon of salt. However in my experience, you will have more consistent success lacto-fermenting vegetables if you do use whey. Another delicious recipe is this probiotic Apple and Beetroot Relish over at Nourished Kitchen.
Love to hear about your experiences with fermenting vegetables? Please post a comment below.
Get your kids to follow mine and make their own probiotic carrots – when they make them, they are much more likely to eat them and benefit from all their goodness.