I don’t know about you but when I go to the market and see all these fresh fruits and vegetables, I quickly get carried away and often buy way more than I need. Well this recently happened to me. But when looking at my fridge, I was overwhelmed by the amount of vegetables, already seeing some go bad, trying to think of recipes including as many vegetables as possible in one dish… and my brother told me “Just ferment them!”.
Don’t worry, I had no clue what this meant either, but now that I made some research, I'm going to share it with you.
What is it? It is a conservation technique widely used throughout the world.
The keyword is “lacto”. You might think that this has something to do with milk and lactose, but it actually refers to “lactobacillus” which is the responsible bacteria for creating your cheese, sourdough, yogurt, pickles, vinegar, kombucha etc.
I was amazed of how simple lacto-fermentation actually was because it basically can be resumed to VEGETABLES + SALT – OXYGEN. And that’s it, really! This allows the perfect environment for those lactic bacteria to develop (don’t panic, these bacteria are extremely good for your health and will repel the “bad” bacteria; the one’s that create mold and make your vegetables go bad).
What are the benefits? Well, there are tons !
It has numerous health benefits enabled by the probiotics produced during fermentation, such as: boost your immune system, improve your digestive health, and give great amounts of nutrients that are conserved and even enhanced thanks to the fermentation process. But most importantly, it is an amazing and healthy way to conserve your food and avoid waste. Once your fruits or vegetables are fermented you can keep them in the fridge for 1 year, sometimes even more!
It has truly revolutionized my cooking! I prepared large batches of vegetables allowing me to save time and always have a nutritious and healthy snack or meal available. It even allowed me to have non-seasonal fruits and vegetables anytime I wanted by preparing them in advance when they were available!
There are 2 basic types of lacto-fermentation:
1. Lacto-fermentation where you create a brine with salt and water and add it to your roughly chopped vegetables
2. Lacto-fermentation where you massage the salt directly into your finely chopped vegetables (which will allow them to reject their own water/brine)
Once you got those, you'll be able to ferment EVERYTHING and make your own Kimchi, hot sauce, sauerkraut, and even fermented fruits! But we'll get to that. Today we're gonna focus on the 2nd type.
Steps to ferment (type 2)
Batch, slice or chop your vegetables and place them in a large bowl
Weigh your vegetables and add 2% of that weight of salt* to your vegetables * Use non-iodized salt (the amount of salt is difficult to judge, depending on the different vegetables & fruits but I’ve been using my brothers advice and it has worked really well) ex: for 1kg of cabbage, add 20 grams of salt; for 500g of carrots add 10grams of salt
Now massage the salt into your vegetables with your hands and don't be afraid to squeeze them a little to help them reject their water (you're gonna need that water)
You can either leave them to rest for 30 minutes to reject water or you can directly add them to your jar (don't throw away the water in your bowl, it is your natural brine so add it to your jar)
Make it airtight: There are many techniques for that and you can choose the one that works best for you; the idea is to put weight on your vegetables to push them under the water surface and keep them away from the surface (oxygen)
What I do is placing a smaller cup or glass above the vegetables and even let water in to push the vegetables down
You can also use a plastic bag and put rice, stones or water etc. to create weight and place it above your vegetables
There are also professional "fermentation weights" available on the market, I'll put a link below
7. Close your jar and let it ferment for at least 3 days (to allow the fermentation process) at room temperature, out of the sun
8. After 3 days, taste and judge! Use a clean fork to taste your vegetables (to avoid other bacteria to enter) and decide.
If you want it sourer, just make sure that your vegetables are still drowned and place it back to ferment. If it's just right, then just put it in the fridge - the cold temperature will stop the fermentation process and you can keep it there for at least 1 year!!
9. Enjoy it as it is, in a salad, on bread, mixed in sauce or made crispy in a pan, it's up to you!
Feel free to reach out to the embellir team for any questions through Facebook, Instagram or by commenting below & see you soon for the next type of lacto-fermentation and some spices !