Today’s guest post is written by my good friend Shaye from The Elliott Homestead. She’s one lacto-fermenting rock star! I’ve yet to learn the art of preserving foods through fermentation, so my buddy will do all the explaining here!
First off, let me just say this: I love New Life On A Homestead. I love having a place (be-it in some far off computer galaxy) that us homesteaders can unite and share in our experiences, both good and bad. I love that we can meet friends here daily – to encourage one another in our homesteading journey. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Onward we go to the point of this post:
There is something quite humbling about writing a blog.
Even though I can pretend like I know what I’m doing, if I’m bein’ honest with you readers, half the time I don’t have a clue.
Since I began blogging, almost a year ago, I have already changed the way I do multiple things. For example, I have an entirely new soaked whole wheat bread recipe that I use. Not to mention, I now grind my own flour. Looking back on past posts, I suppose, is a good way to remember my journey. However, it can also be quite humiliating at moments.
Like when I got you all excited about using sourdough starters to cook bread, pancakes, and cookies…
And then I forgot to feed my starter and it died faster than a pet gerbil.
Yikes. I never told you that little fact, did I?
Today, I know I am venturing into one of these humbling moments. And because I document our food/life/family journey every day, you all get to bear witness to it.
Anyway, I do have a point. Today, I want to talk about lacto-fermented vegetables as a method of preservation. Because Sally Fallon can word this much better than I ever could, please read the following:
“It may seem strange to use 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 and especially numerous on leaves and roots of plants growing in or near the ground. Man needs only to learn the techniques for controlling and encouraging their proliferation to put them to his own use, just has he has learned to put certain yeasts to use in converting the sugars in grape juice to alcohol in wine.”
So here’s the run down: Lacto-fermentation uses the natural production of lactic acid to preserve vegetables and fruits (instead of the conventional methods of vinegar or sugar). The bonus is this: lacto-fermenation actually increases the nutritional quality of the vegetables and fruits! Ya, baby!
When I began in lacto-fermentation, I started with the “easiest” transition vegetable – gingered carrots. And the technique was pretty simple: Shred the carrots and ginger, add a generous pinch of salt, squish with a meat mallet (or in my case, wooden pummel) to release the juices in the carrots. Then, stuff into a mason jar, allowing the released carrot juices to cover them. Leave it out on the counter for three days before moving to cold storage.
“The ancients understood the fact that important chemical changes took place during this type of fermentation. Their name for this change was ‘alchemy’. Like the fermentation of dairy products, preservation of vegetables and fruits by the lacto-fermentation has numerous advantages beyond those of simple preservation. The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation, but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine. Other alchemical by-products include hydrogen peroxide and small amounts of benzoic acid.”
We’ve since become semi-acquire to the acidic ting of lacto-fermented vegetables, and while I have yet to venture into other vegetables, I am slowing and happily learning the proper methods for preparing such treats. I have a recipe for a fermented beet and apple chutney that I cannot wait to try!
Lactic-acid fermented vegetables and fruit chutneys are not meant to be eaten in large quantities but as condiments. They go beautifully with meats and fish of all sorts, as well as with pulses and grains. They are easy to prepare, and they confer health benefits that cannot be underestimated.”
Might I encourage you to venture into the unknown realm of lactic acid?
Might I encourage you to preserve some of your summer bounty in this wonderful, ancient way?
Might I have you over for dinner so that you can taste test my wonderful gingered carrots alongside a grilled steak?
Okay. Scratch that last one. Something tells me hubby would be very saddened if I used up all his currently-deep-frozen steaks.
But do give lacto-fermentation a try! You never know what delicious treasures you’ll find in the form of lactic acid!
“Maybe I’m a nerd, but I get a sweet satisfaction out of washing dishes, cooking from scratch, and brewing kombucha. I know. That means I’m a nerd. But, none-the-less, I blog to revive the homesteading spirit inherent in all of us! Be it nerdy or not. I often look to the past for my inspiration – traditional & effective methods of food preparation and preservation, cloth diapering, homemade cleaners and beauty products, gardening & gleaning, home brewing, fermenting foods – you name it! Rediscovering traditional ways of living can be very rewarding for geeks like me! Each of us has our own unique way of building a homestead (wherever and whatever that may be) and I hope to encourage, learn from, and laugh with folks along the way. From learning to cook a whole chicken to mixin’ up homemade deodorant and everything in between – there is such fun to be had in the home! With husband, Stuart, and baby daughter, Georgia, I hope to further grow our homestead to a place that is overfilled with joy, fellowship, and homegrown food!” Shaye can be found cooking and blogging over on her homestead at http://www.theelliotthomestead.blogspot.com!