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Fermented Vegetable FAQ Answers [for Probiotics] with Recipes

Friday, August 26, 2016

Lacto-Fermentation is a method of preserving food that transforms fresh food into favorites such as pickles, chutney, and sauerkraut.

Nearly any vegetable can be fermented.

Washing vegetables is a personal choice and is not necessary. Fresh vegetables should have friendly bacteria all over them from the soil. The fermentation process will allow these friendly bacteria to multiply.

Do I need a vegetable culture or whey to make fermented vegetables? No. We recommend a salt-only ferment for vegetables. Dried starter cultures may be added in addition to salt, if desired.

Good quality salt with no additives is the best.

Can I use distilled, alkaline, or mineral water for making brine? Choosing a good water source is important. Plain water is best.

Why do I have to keep my vegetables submerged below the brine? It is important to keep vegetables in an anaerobic environment during the fermentation period. Reducing oxygen exposure reduces the chance of mold forming.

How long will it take for my vegetables to ferment? Vegetable fermentation can be as short as several days or as long as several weeks.

How long will my fermented vegetables last in cold storage? The length of time the fermented vegetables will last depends on several factors including the age of the veggies, type of veggies and what was used for fermentation (salt only, whey, veggie starter, etc.) and storage temperature. Storage time is usually from a few weeks to a few months, but the general rule is to never consume anything that smells or tastes unpleasant.

How do I know when my fermented vegetables are finished? When you're new to fermenting, every step of the fermentation process can be slightly intimidating. From trusting that fermentation will keep your vegetables from spoiling to braving the first bite, fermenting is a bit of an adventure.

The reality is that fermentation is a continual process and flavors will change over time. As microorganisms continue to do their work on the sugars and other carbohydrates found in the vegetables, the taste of fermented vegetables will change.

There are three obvious signs that the fermentation process has at least commenced enough that fermenting vegetables can be moved to cold storage. Temperature will play a role in how quickly these signs appear, so results may vary from season to season and batch to batch.
Bubbling - The lactic acid fermentation process produces lactic acid bacteria that create gases when they feast on the vegetables. These gases are often visible as bubbles throughout the jar after a few days at room temperature and are a good sign.
In large vegetables like chunks of zucchini, the brine will contain bubbles and the vegetables themselves will only have a slightly “bubbly” flavor. Other ferments that use vegetables with more surface area, like salsa, will have an almost carbonated flavor throughout. This carbonation is normal and can be quite tasty.

Sour Aroma - The nose knows is very true when it comes to fermentation. Opening the fermentation vessel after a few days may release a sour, vinegary aroma. While the aroma may be strong at first, it should be pleasant. If, on the other hand, your sauerkraut smells like spoiled or rotten food, discard it, clean the container thoroughly, and try again another day.

Flavor - Finally, once the vegetable ferment appears gaseous or bubbly and smells sour but pleasing, it's time to taste. Depending on the type of vegetable, varying ranges of fermented flavors may be present. Taste vegetables daily until they reach the flavor and texture that you prefer. At that point, it's time for cold storage.

Fermented carrot sticks are a great crunchy fermented snack and an easy introduction to fermented foods for kids. Prepared according to this recipe, they are fairly mild in flavor. Later, add some garlic cloves and peppercorns for a little extra kick, if you prefer.
1 quart water
1-3 Tbsp. sea salt
2-3 pounds carrots, cut into sticks

Dissolve salt in water.
Place the carrot sticks in the jar and pour the liquid over the carrots, leaving 1-2 inches headspace.
If necessary, weigh the carrots down under the brine to keep them submerged. [this can be a cabbage leaf or a clean rock or other items.]
Cover the jar with a tight lid, airlock lid, or coffee filter secured with a rubber band.
Culture at room temperature (60-70'F is preferred) until desired flavor and texture are achieved. If using a tight lid, burp daily to release excess pressure.
Once the carrots are finished, put a tight lid on the jar and move to cold storage. The flavor will continue to develop as the carrots age.

Peppers are the sweethearts of summer. They love the heat, and add yummy flavor (and nutrition) to summer favorites like gazpacho, salsa, and stuffed peppers. They're also full of vitamin C. Preserve them and make them even more nutritious (and delicious) through the process of lacto-fermentation.
Once they are fermented you can add them plain to all sorts of dishes. Any raw salad that you might add bell peppers to would welcome these simple lacto-fermented sweet peppers.
Add them to a taco salad. Use them in a fresh salsa. Whip them up in an extra tangy gazpacho. Add them to a grain or bean salad. Top a bowl of beans with them along with cultured cream. Use them to top cooked Italian or other sausages. Or enjoy them straight from the jar if you're a real pepper lover.
Sweet peppers
Sea salt
Filtered water
Seasoning of choice: cumin or cayenne, peeled garlic, sliced onion; cilantro or parsley, etc.

Dissolve 3 tablespoons salt per quart of water.
Rinse peppers with water and remove stems and cores. Cut into thin strips or 1/2 to 1-inch squares.
Place a bit of seasonings, if using, at the bottom of each jar. Fill the jar about halfway with peppers. Add in a bit more seasonings. Fill the rest of the jar with the chopped peppers, leaving 1-2 inches head-space.
Pour brine over peppers and seasonings until covered.
If necessary, weigh the peppers down under the brine to keep them submerged. Cover the jar with a tight lid, airlock lid, or coffee filter secured with a rubber band.
Culture at room temperature (60-70'F is preferred) until desired flavor is achieved. If using a tight lid, burp daily to release excess pressure.
Once the peppers are finished, put a tight lid on the jar and move to cold storage.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I made a lacto-fermented salsa a few years ago using my favorite salsa recipe but then life happens and I got busy with other things. " It would be intimidating for me as suggested." It is to me also. I also wonder about the taste as I have never tasted fermented foods. Grocery store pickles aren't the same thing. I was going to start with the carrot recipe because if I didn't like it I could give it to the dog as I feed her a half a carrot a day. But I needed to get rid of bell peppers from the garden surplus. So I have to small jars going.

    NJMATTICE, you can use a plate weighted down with a water filled ziplock bag and cheese cloth for a cover. Nice to know we started on the same day!
    964 days ago
    Thanks for the great information. I'm not quite ready to add fermentation to my repertoire yet, but I picked up a nice crock a year ago, looking for a well fitting top, so, I'm headed there! It's on the to do list!
    Also, as I was sparking around, cleaning up my resources and the like, I notice that you and I started sparking the same day. So nice to see you still hanging in there! I knew I recognized your username. It's not common like "susie2" or something. Keep up the good healthy work!
    965 days ago
    Wow. This is super helpful. Thanks for the resource.
    965 days ago
    I don't know that I'm ready for something like this. It would be intimidating for me as suggested.
    965 days ago
  • PICKIE98
    The sad truth is that if you do not grow your own cabbage, the pesticides and other chemicals that are left as residue, can impact your product. I wish the only thing we had to do was scrape the mold off the cabbage off the top of the crock, instead of worry about chemicals nowadays.
    What is better than getting a mouth full of that yummy, tasty kraut?? Mmmmmm
    965 days ago
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