An Experiment in Fermenting Vegetables

An Experiment in Fermenting Vegetables
First jars of carrots in brine…

In my on-going effort to eat mostly whole, home-made, healthy, nutritious foods, I finally got my nerve up to try fermenting. I say “got my nerve up” because, like most Americans, I’ve been culturally programmed to believe bacteria is bad. But it’s not all bad. We need “good” bacteria in our bodies to keep us healthy.

I purchased fermentation revivalist Sandor Ellix Katz’s book The Art of Fermentation while on vacation. I read through it and pondered the idea and the processes for about a month. There’s a lot written about the health benefits of lacto-fermentation (check out this interview with Katz on NPR), but the history and culture associated with it that Katz describes are fascinating to me.

So, I bought a cabbage and set my first jar of sauerkraut to fermenting. It was actually pretty amazing to watch and taste the transformation of this simple concoction of cabbage and salt. We’ve already begun eating the tangy sauerkraut (Ferment #1), and it’s pretty good, but I expect it will get even better as time goes on. Next time I’ll try a little different chopping style and add a cabbage leaf to the top of the packed cabbage to keep it submerged under the brine that forms during fermentation. I also want to try packing it in crocks as well as the glass canning jars I used for this first batch – just to see the differences in fermentation time and activity.

Today, I started Ferment #2 – carrots. This time I chose to use a brine (rather than dry salting) with added garlic cloves, turmeric root, black peppercorns, and mustard seed. We’ll see how it goes – should be ready to eat in 5 days or so. Then – like most fermented foods – will get tangier as time passes… it’s all a matter of taste and preference.

So, I’m hooked and on a roll… what should Ferment #3 be?

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