The weekend held more canning for me. Not in the way you might imagine, however. There was no vinegar or boiling and sealing jars involved. I used an even older method of preserving food through lacto-fermentation or fermentation through lactic acid. It is a far superior way of canning to today’s methods in terms of nutrition.
“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.”
-Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions pg.89
So far, all I have tried is cucumbers and of course made dill pickles. We have eaten two jars already and I have ten more in the works. I plan on trying to do lacto-fermentation with kraut next. Yum! It’s really good in a bowl of soup (pinto) beans with cornbread.
It has taken me a couple of tries to get my recipe right for my pickles. The website that coincides with Sandor Katz’s book Wild Fermentation has been a big help. I used the recommendations there and the recipe in Nourishing Traditions to develop my own.
Line the bottom of some wide mouth canning jars with leaves that are high in tannins. I use blackberry leaves as that’s what I have in my backyard. Grape leaves are suitable as well. These will keep the cucumbers crispy. In the bottom (for a pint jar), place one clove of garlic and 3/4 teaspoon of dried dill. Slice cucumbers into 1/4 inch slices and stuff the jar leaving about an inch of space from the top. Fill with water to cover the cucumbers, but keeping it an inch from the top of the jar. Add 3/4 tablespoon of real sea salt (unrefined), and put a smaller lid on top of the cucumbers to hold them under the water (it is important they remain submersed). Put on the lid. Then, leave the filled jars sit in a warm spot for 2-4 days. My last batch had to go for four. The first batch went three. Taste them after a few days to see if they are to your liking. It is normal for them to be bubbly. Any scum that might form on the top, just skim off. It will be obvious if something has went wrong and they are no longer edible from smell.
The pickles are delicious and the closer you get to the bottom of the jar, the more you can taste the flavor of the garlic. It makes me happy knowing that I am eating a pickle that is more beneficial to me than a boat load of sodium, artificial colors, and other preservatives. This experience has made me brave enough to try other fermented veggies, and I might even buy some kefir grains as I get serious about kicking my coffee habit.
If you’d like to know more about fermenting vegetables, check out this video with Sandor Katz.