Though the term “fermented” sounds vaguely distasteful, the results of this ancient preparation and preservation technique – produced through the breakdown of carbohydrates and proteins by microorganisms such as bacteria, yeasts, and molds – are actually delicious.
First of all, “lacto” doesn’t have anything to do with dairy. Secondly, lacto-fermentation is not a weird or even frightening process that involves bubbling jars filled with mysterious contents. Lacto-fermentation is in fact SUPER easy and takes only a few minutes of your time. Lacto refers to lactic acid that is being produced by beneficial bacteria like lactobacillus acidophilus. Fermented foods are so beneficial to overall health that some of these foods are now considered to be “probiotics,” increasing your overall nutrition, promoting the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria, and aiding digestion and supporting immune function, including an increase in B vitamins (even Vitamin B12), omega-3 fatty acids, digestive enzymes, lactase and lactic acid, and other immune chemicals that fight off harmful bacteria and even cancer cells.
How to ferment vegetables:
- Pile the ingredients (any type of vegetable like cabbage, carrots, bell peppers etc) in a jar. I prefer to use a jar with an airlock which releases carbon dioxide produced during fermentation but block out oxygen. But again, you can use any jar, even a plain old mason jar. if you don’t use an airlock system, you have to open the jar once a day to release the carbon dioxide.
- Add salted water, cover the jar and let the bacteria work. Vegetables create their own brine when salt is added. Make sure the vegetables are completely submerged in the water. You can use a small bowl or jar to weigh down the vegetables and keep them submerged. This helps to prevent mold growth. Discard any vegetables that may have floated to the surface and skim off any mold that has been formed. Fear not- as long as there is no mold among the vegetables they are perfectly fine to eat. You can drink the brine (haven’t tried that yet), add it to dressings or use it for your next fermentation project.
I could hardly wait to try my fermented veggies- on the third day, I made myself a delicious sandwich and piled up avocado drizzled with lemon juice, lemon and olive oil marinated chopped kale, dijon mustard, pumpkin seeds and fermented red cabbage and red bell pepper.
The cauliflower florets were too big for the sandwich. I was simply blown away by the slightly sour but incredibly tasty addition to my -otherwise- plain old sandwich. I think I am officially hooked on fermented veggies! JUHUU!
By the way, I grilled the sandwich in our panini press.
- 1 cup carrot slices
- 1 cup red bell pepper strips
- 1 cup red cabbage, thinly cut
- 1 cup small cauliflower florets
- 1 quart filtered water (=scant litre of water)
- 2 1/2 tbsp fine sea salt NON IODISED (iodine can inhibit fermentation)
- 1 bay leave
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
- 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/4 tsp black peppercorns
- Combine water and salt in a measuring cup and stir until the salt is dissolved (you can warm up the water to dissolve the salt but let it cool off to room temperature before adding it to the jar).
- Place the remaining ingredients in a very clean large jar.
- Add salted water. if necessary add more water to completely cover the vegetables.
- Add a small bowl or jar to weigh down the vegetables.
- Close the lid and let the jar stand on the counter.
- Open the jar once a day to try the flavour. Skim off any mold that has formed on the surface.
- When the pickles taste to your liking, transfer the jar to the refrigerator. This will slow down the fermentation process.