Hi all I just wanted to share some of my thoughts on fermentation, I have been experimenting now for over 12 months with Lacto fermentation, this is the process of fermenting foods with salt, as in a brine solution or just using the plants natural liquids and salt and in most cases keeping the veggies under the liquid so it isn’t in contact with the air, when I talk about pickling or use the term Lacto-Fermentation, I am referring to this method, if I use vinegar I say vinegar pickles ok, just so we are clear.
I’m always looking for ways to live more simply so as to have as little impact on nature as possible and I don’t think there is any greater joy in doing so, it is my passion as you will find out if you haven’t all ready.
I started fermenting full on over 12 months ago and haven’t looked back. My mother asked me what I wanted one Xmas or my birthday can’t remember, anyway after a few google searches I decided I wanted to get the book Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz so mum ordered it for me and it is the best present I have ever been given I recon, it has changed the way I look at food completely. It has opened my mind up to a whole new world a world crawling with friendly little critters called bacteria.
The line between off and fermented is a fine one sometimes and my whole idea of what constitutes off has moved way beyond most people’s perceptions of this word, I can tell by the way they look at me when I invite them to try something that has been sitting out on my bench for months on end bubbling away and smelling to some like a fart!
Where once I would have probably reacted the same way with disgust and disbelief I now crave the unique flavors and smells that emanate from the many bubbling crocks and jars around my home.
I do admit it takes a bit of getting used to at first, the only one I had to kick out into the patio so far was the fermented onions…… I understand it is a acquired taste but I mostly think a lot of peoples rejection to these pungent health enhancing foods is in their heads, the fear campaign surrounding our food these days has been very effective, I don’t want to get to political or though I don’t think you can separate politics and food but here I just want to share my experience and hope that I can blow away a few of these fears so people can enjoy something that we as humans have been enjoying from the beginning of our existence.
Every ancient culture on earth has had some form of naturally fermented foods in their diets. We have lost a lot of this knowledge and are afraid to experiment to re find the wonders of fermentation, we do still have foods like beer, wines, cheese and dill pickles etc but the majority of what we consume is pasteurised or iodised literally to death!
I say Don’t Believe The Hype!! We as people need to regain control of our food for it is OUR health and wellbeing that is at stake, have a look around you how many people do you know or are yourself over weight, sickly and just have no energy, no it isn’t just food but I believe it has a lot to do with it. If something is on a shelve in a shop we just believe it is safe to eat without even reading the labels, when did we hand over the responsibility for our health to big corporation and politicians, we have been fooled into trusting these big corporations and look at where it has gotten society today, we have a health crisis at present and it is getting worse every day.
So just saying I believe we need to go back to go forward if you know what I mean. Go back to living in harmony with nature, I know you’ve heard it all before buy local etc, etc but only by buying fresh seasonal produce, growing your own, foraging, bartering and creating meals from scratch can you be sure of what you are eating and by doing so it not only benefits you your family your neighbourhood and your local area it helps the environment and all other species on our precious planet, so why wouldn’t you do it! And please don’t say “I’m too busy” the oldest excuse in the book because if you are too busy to love and look after yourself and your family and the planet we all rely on to survive then you need to reassess your life…….
So for my experiments so far, when I first started out I was on a mission to turn my fridge off, I haven’t got there yet but I will. I thought the old ways of fermentation for preserving food would help me in that mission, so I decided I needed to do my own research to find out.
I picked Snap Peas, Snow Peas, Baby Carrots and Zucchinis from my garden, bottled them in a brine solution and put them in my cupboard to see how long they would last without refrigeration. The baby Zucchinis went mushy after 5 months the Carrots 7 months, the Snow Peas started to loose their texture and go sloppy by about 8 months and the Snap Peas are still good 12 months on and I recon that is pretty good.
I now put my whole baby Carrots and Zucchinis out on the bench for about a month or so depending on temperatures and then I put them in the fridge which stops them from over fermenting, they have lasted 12 months easy but I believe they would keep in a cellar or in the ground without refrigeration, I don’t have a cellar to see unfortunately. I also did a jar of Chillies, Ginger and Garlic and put in the cupboard and they are fine 12 months on. So my conclusion is that it is an effective way to preserve food without considering all the other nutritional reasons to use this method.
If I want a sour pickle I use 2 tbsp. salt to litre of water if I want a salty one that will last longer without refrigeration I uses about 4 tbsp. and you can wash the salt out before using if they are too salty for your taste.
So far my favourite plain veggie ferments are Sauerkraut, Baby Carrots, Snap Peas, Scarlet Runner Beans, Pickled Onions and Beets. I make a fermented Chilly sauce and a fermented Spanish Onion sauce too that are to die for. One note- I have found that this fermentation method changes hot things like horseradish if you leave them too long it is quiet amazing actually, my Horse Radish was so potent when I started it and for about 2 weeks I didn’t think it was going to be edible but after about 3 months if mellowed out and even became sweet, same with my Mustard and Ginger done this way!.. So if you want hot do a Vinegar pickle.
This season I want to experiment more with mixes incorporating weeds, as in Kimchis and Relishes. This season so far I have fermented Kale which I really like and yesterday I made a Zucchini, Capsicum, Chilly and Tasmanian Native Pepper Berry (Tasmannia lanceolata) Relish. (Recipe to come & will be in my Fermented recipe section above)
Well I hope this inspirers some to experiment with fermentation you wont be sorry……………