Fermenting Vegetables, an Introduction from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
“It may seem strange to us that, in earlier times, people knew how to preserve vegetables for long periods without the use of freezers or canning machines. This was done through the process of lacto-fermentation. Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits putrefying bacteria. Starches and sugars in vegetables and fruits are converted into lactic acid by the many species of lactic-acid-producing bacteria. These lactobacilli are ubiquitous, present on the surface of all living things…The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels…. A partial list of lacto-fermented vegetables from around the world is sufficient to prove the universality of this practice. [Examples given include Europe—sauerkraut, pickled beets, turnips and cucumbers; Korea—kimchi; America— corn relish, cucumber relish, pickled watermelon rind; Japan—pickled plums; India—chutney.]
“Lactobacilli-fermented condiments are easy to make. Fruits and vegetables are first washed and cut up, mixed with salt and herbs or spices and then pounded briefly to release juices. They are then pressed into an air tight container. Salt inhibits putrefying bacteria for several days until enough lactic acid is produced to preserve the vegetables for many months. The amount of salt can be reduced or even eliminated if whey is added to the pickling solution…. Use of whey will result in consistently successful pickling; it is essential for pickling fruits. During the first few days of fermentation, the vegetables are kept at room temperature; afterwards, they must be placed in a cool, dark place for long-term preservation.
“It is important to use the best quality organic vegetables, sea salt and filtered or pure water for lacto-fermentation.
“Some lactobacilli-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—the smell will be so awful that nothing could persuade you to eat it.” —Nourishing Traditions, pages 89-91, by Sally Fallon.
Traditional Fermented Pickles
These incredibly easy fermented pickles are deliciously salty and crispy. The recipe makes enough brine for two quart jars of pickles. I did not use whey, yet the result was still amazing.
- 1/4 cup non-iodized salt
- 5 1/3 cups filtered water
- Organic cucumbers or other vegetables, such as:
- Green beans
- Pearl onions
- Pickling spices (optional), such as:
- Black pepper corns
- Bay leaf
- Cumin seed
- Mustard seeds
- Caraway seed
- Dill seed
- Red pepper flakes
- Garlic cloves
- Medium mixing bowl
- Measuring cups
- 2 quart-size wide-mouth canning jars and lids, washed in hot soapy water, rinsed thoroughly and dried
Prepare your brine: Pour salt into mixing bowl. Heat 1 cup of the water till at least hot enough to steam. Pour over the salt and stir till the salt is dissolved. Pour in the remaining 4 1/3 cups water. Stir. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Prepare the vegetables by rinsing and cutting into preferred sizes and shapes. Fill jars with veggies and any spices (I used bay leaf, black pepper corns and red pepper flakes) to top of the jar but below the mouth portion of the jar. Pour in the brine until the veggies are covered, then lid tightly. Set jars in a room temperature area and ignore them for 3 days. And, just like that, you have pickled perfection!
Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
- 1 cup good quality plain yogurt
- Strainer or sieve
- Glass bowl
- Dish towel
- Wooden spoon
- Small mason jar with lid
- Glass storage container with lid
Use a glass bowl that is fairly deep. Set the strainer on the bowl. Make sure the bottom of the strainer sits at least 2 inches above the bottom of the bowl. Center the dish towel in the strainer. Pour the yogurt into the towel and fold an edge of the towel over to cover the yogurt, but without touching it. Whey will begin dripping out of the yogurt. Leave to drip for at least 6 hours, preferably 24. Place a wooden spoon or dowel across the top of the sieve. Gather up the edges of the towel and tie them to the handle of the wooden spoon. Leave to drip for a few more hours. The yogurt will now be a soft cream cheese. If you can tolerate dairy, spoon into a glass storage container, refrigerate, and use as a spread. Pour the whey from the bowl into a small mason jar and refrigerate. It should be almost clear. It can now be used to create pickles, sauerkraut or other fermented fruit or vegetable condiments.