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by Lisa Giroday, Sandra Lopuch and Sam Philips (photo by All Things Crystal) | Sometimes, keeping up with harvesting can be a huge task, especially at this time of year when people are growing/snapping up local, organic veggies and fruits at Vancouver's farmers markets (and beyond) for preserving. One of our favourite and super simple methods of preservation is the art of fermentation. Sound scary? It's not. For those of you who missed our last workshop at Homesteader's Emporium (co-facilitated by Andrea Potter, holistic nutritionist, chef, and mastermind behind Rooted Nutrition), this week we will share a few tips on how to ferment your harvest via lacto-fermentation. That action happens when starches and sugars in vegetables and fruits convert to lactic acid by friendly lactic acid-producing bacteria. The result is an awesome, tangy and delicious cultured food. The beneficial probiotics and enzymes found in fermented foods help with digestion and the promotion of healthy intestinal flora. You can serve it as a really quick meal addition or as a snack.
You can ferment almost any veggie, but the most popular ones are cabbage, beets, carrots, cukes, beans and onions. What's more, you can add peppers, garlic, ginger, and so on for additional flavours. We are surrounded by fermented foods - beer, wine, cheese, chocolate, tea, pickles, kimchi, salami, yogurt, kombucha, vinegar, and the list goes on. Once you try it, the fear will be demystified. But because it is pretty much the opposite process to canning, it does seem a bit daunting. Our culture has brought us up to be so sterile with food, but as Andrea says, with fermenting your senses can tell you if your kraut, for example, has or hasn't worked. And we can tell you with authority from experience that it is painfully obvious when it doesn't work. When it works, there is a nice sour, tangy smell. When it doesn't, there may be a green-coloured mold and a smells that says "don't eat me".
Andrea has provided us with this recipe for brined pickles, and by pickles we mean a myriad of veggies that can be pickled, like garlic scapes, beans, carrots, et cetera. Check it out after the jump.
Brined Pickles (by Andrea Potter)
Makes 2-3 liter jarsIngredients
2 Lbs Baby dill cucumbers or try baby carrots, asparagus, green beans...
2-3 heads of dill (preferably flowering) (optional)
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp salt
6 cloves garlic (Optional)
2 L chlorine-free water
A few oak , grape or horseradish leaves, or a 3″ chunk of horseradish root
Optional spices: coriander, mustard seeds, cumin, fennel seeds, black peppercorns, fresh ginger, fresh chilliesEquipment
* A ceramic or glass jar or crock. One two liter vessel or two one liter ones. The mouth should be about as wide as the body of the vessel. (Be creative. I have seen some people use vases, ceramic utensil holders, old pickle jars.)
* A container or jug for mixing brine
* A plate that fits snugly inside your crock and a weight. (* This is not imperative. If you fit the vegetables very snugly inside the crock, they will not float to the top. The idea here is to keep the contents submerged under the brine. Any pieces floating at the top will attract mold and unwanted bacteria.)
* A clean cloth or apronDirections
* Soak and wash the cucumbers thoroughly. If they are less than fresh from the garden, soak them for at least 3 hours in cold water to refresh them. If using other vegetables, just wash them and trim them to fit the jar.
* Layer the bottom of your container with the leaves. Now add dill and optional garlic and spices.
* Neatly line up your vegetables inside the glass or ceramic container. Fit them snugly, but not crammed.
* In a separate container, mix the salt and water.
* Fill the jar with the brine.
* If your vegetables or spices float, you will need to weigh them down with a glass plate and weight. If they stay submerged, just put a clean cloth on the top of the jar and secure it in place with an elastic band.
* Check the pickles everyday. Using a metal spoon, skim off any bubbly scum or surface mold which appears.
* Failure to skim them can cause the pickles to go bad. Skimming them is also a good opportunity to check the taste of the pickles. They will take anywhere from three days to 2 weeks to sour to your liking. If put into a cooler placed to ferment, they can take weeks to months. The smaller ones will be done first.
* Once the batch is to your liking, put a lid on them and refrigerate them.Recommended Resources:
Take a class! Andrea Potter: rootednutrition.ca
Buy a book! Sandor Ellix Katz, The Art of Fermentation
Victory Gardens is a team of local urban farmers for hire. Lisa, Sandra and Sam help transform tired or underused residential and commercial green spaces into food producing gardens. Their goal is to challenge the way communities use space and to participate in the change needed to consume food more sustainably. For the rest of the growing season, they've hooked up with Scout to share some cool tips and tricks on how to get the best from of our own backyards.