People have been fermenting foods for thousands of years, it is what they did before the invention of refrigerators! Fermenting vegetables is not only a good way to store them for longer, it also makes them tastier and has many health benefits:
1) Fermented vegetables are more nutritious, their minerals are easier for the body to get hold of. What’s more; the bacteria produced during the process of fermentation produces B vitamins.
2) Fermented vegetables are easier to digest because the bacteria produced during the process makes enzymes that help with digestion.
3) Fermented vegetables act as a probiotic and can be used instead of commercial probiotics which can be quite costly.
Fermenting vegetables means that you can have nutritious summer vegetables available to you in winter, so it is a way of eating your favourite local organic veg all year round. You can ferment any vegetable, fermented cabbage is a health food often eaten in Germany, you may know it better as Sauerkraut. I find that carrots and onions are delicious fermented. I have tried many vegetables and can’t think of one that was unpleasant in its fermented form.
Waste no time and get fermenting straight away:
1) Cut/shred your vegetables into small pieces
2) Place in a bowl and squeeze their juices out using a meat hammer or the bottom of a jar – whatever you can find (!) There is special fermenting equipment available, but a basic glass jar works fine in my experience.
3) Add quite a bit of natural salt to keep pathogenic bacteria out. People generally say 3 tablespoons of salt per 5 pounds of veg works. If you do not want to use salt, be sure to use celery juice.
4) Pack the vegetables tightly into a jar so that the juices are on top. To do this, you will need to use a tool to push the vegetables to them bottom. Any vegetables outside of the juice will quickly turn into mould which it is not a good idea to eat! If you do find a bit of vegetable has escaped, you can just remove this from the jar at the end. It is a good idea to weigh the vegetables down so that they do not float to the top. I used stones to do this and it worked fine. Once this is done properly, there should be enough juice to cover the vegetables. If you find there is not enough, or would like more probiotic juice, you can blend celery and add the juice as a brine. There must be a bit of air ontop of the juice and you must seal the jar tightly.
Store your jars of fermenting vegetables in a cool dark place. It is best not to store them in a cold place as it will take them longer to ferment. The same is true of an overly warm place where they will ferment too quickly.
Wait for three to four weeks before trying your vegetables. They will be tangy and work well in salads or soups. Have a bit with each meal so that they work as a probiotic.
Once you have opened a jar of fermented vegetables, you will need to keep it in the fridge. Make sure remaining vegetables are covered with the brine when you put them in the fridge.