recipes · wild foods

Fermentation Basics

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Lacto-fermentation as a “foodie” thing is of course raging in popularity right now.  The simplicity of preparation, the dense aroma of semi-rotten, bacteria-eaten vegetables, the infinite variety.  The fact that this dish (and it is a dish, never a side) is raw is also quite interesting as the process of fermentation releases mineral content and encourages enzymatic activity that many rawists are missing in their trek for diverse eating.

What is missing from the fermentation movement is the necessary preservation feature of fermented foods.  While market and basket season is not yet officially over, how many times have I heard that many basket subscriptions from local farmers contain “too many vegetables”, as they tuck in and try all their might to eat and redistribute the verdant nuggets of divinity?  Don’t waste those excess goods!  Eating everything now only leaves the long aisles of supermarket sadness left for the months of December, January, February, March, April…..

Save yourself the chronic depression of month-old “fresh” vegetable displays of the industrial food complex for the suckers who have yet to find lacto-fermentation as a method of food preservation.  Drying & dehydrating is another method, canning is wonderful but not for enzymes and vitamins (which is lost when exposed to high heat for a measure of time).  I did little to no “putting up” of canned fruits for lack of motivation to stand in a hot kitchen in July/August and honestly I’m not that into pressure canning either.  The lower the technology, the better when it comes to simple fare such as carrots, radish, cabbage, and broccoli (among the scores of other vegetables we know and love).

Get lifted, get fermented!

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Here is a recipe from “The Laurentian Herbal”, including my method ::

Market Madness

There are so many versions of this recipe – or at least there should be. Any combination of market fresh vegetables is acceptable and no pairing is too outrageous.

Here is one of my most recent combinations.

2 bunches radish, including green tops, grated.
1 bunch carrots, grated.
2 Napa or Savoy cabbage
1 fennel bulb, sliced thinly
2 tsp fennel seed, whole or ground
1 tsp parsley seed, whole or ground
2 tsp salt
Miso broth

(makes about 2L)

Start with slicing very thin or grating your vegetables. I like the use my cuisinart although it is an extra appliance to wash it can move an awful lot of plant matter in a short period of time. Transfer your gratings to a large mixing or pyrex bowl.

Sprinkle a generous amount of salt over it. Squeeze and massage the salt into the vegetables with your hands. Really work it. Add spices in at this stage.

Now, pack a clean /sterile jar (about 500mL—1L Mason/Ball) with the vegetables, making sure there are no or few very bubbles and air pockets. Keep pressing down, adding a handful of sliced vegetables in layers or in one mix. Once you’ve reached to about 1” below the lip of the jar, top it up with miso slurry, leftover brine, or salt water.

Miso broth. Using an immersion blender and a tall container or cup, blend 2 tbsp of miso paste into ½ cup of warm (but not boiling hot) water. This creates a simple broth that is used to “top up” fermentation jars and kickstart the fermentation process.

Screw the lid on finger tight. The 2-piece lids work great for this although plastic is usually preferred. Keep the jar on the counter but out of direct sunlight.

Keeps in a cold storage for months!  Keeping the lid on (oxygen out) and away from light inhibits the growth of mould.

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