Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Success with Lacto Fermenting

Last summer I fermented the excess cucumbers from my garden as a way to preserve them.  They turned out okay, but my family wouldn’t eat them so well.  I was worried after growing mold on top of the brine they would make us sick.  I didn’t feel right insisting, even though nobody had any ill effects.  I didn’t have any confidence with it and they weren’t at all delicious, so I pushed it all to the side.

For the past year I have been researching lacto fermentation.  After learning the health benefits, I knew it was something that I wanted to push through and learn.  I scoured a lot of websites, went through some e classes, devoured the section in Nourishing Traditions and borrowed Wild Fermentation from the local library.

I jumped in with both feet. I started straining whey from my raw yogurt to make spreads, dips and thick Greek style yogurt.  With this ingredient always around, it made it easy to throw it in things that I made like hummus, salsa and mayonnaise.  I found that adding extra sweetener to strike a little balance with the sour that the fermentation creates, eased the transition.  As we all got used to the flavor it was not a problem to pull back little by little.

I decided I was ready to try vegetables again.  My intentions were to start with Nourishing Tradition's Ginger Carrot recipe, but I had 2 heads of cabbage that needed to be dealt with, so sauerkraut it was.  I used the recipe in Nourishing Traditions; it turned out so salty and bitter that it ended up being thrown out.  I learned in Wild Fermentation that using whey yields a more consistent result.  I also read some reviews on the Nourishing Traditions sauerkraut recipe and it is commonly reported being too salty. I couldn’t get too down.

Then, it was time to get my summer garden planted and I had not kept up on the beets.  I had a mix of golden and red beets that I harvested all at once, which I diced and fermented together.  These turned out really nice!  I especially loved the color.  By the third day, the brine had all turned a beautiful purple-red, the golden beets were stained on the outside, but still were bright orange-yellow in the center.  I wish I would have gotten a picture, it was really fun.  Slowly, the color penetrated deeper and deeper until they were red all the way through.

Later my green beans got out of control and I was needing a good way to preserve them.  I fermented whole beans with garlic, banana peppers, dry dill and coriander.  They took on great flavor, stayed nice and crisp and are still in the fridge doing their thing!  Now I have got cucumbers getting backed up in the crisper.  I got one jar done last week, but the flavors are not quite right.  I am going to try throwing in a few cloves of smashed garlic to see if that livens them up.  For the next batch, I want to track down a bunch of fresh dill and compare the flavor.

There is a dairy free way to get into lacto fermentation. In Nourished Kitchen's ecourse, Jenny recommends Caldwell's Vegetable Starter for consistent results.

Wardeh at GNOWFGLINS is offering a new ecourse that is perfect for those who are committed to learning lacto fermentation.  She will sell you on the health benefits of this method, for sure and is a great resource when you are ready to get your feet wet.
links; Real Food Wednesday, Traditional Tuesday, Works For Me Wednesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Kitchen Tip Tuesday


  1. I've got a couple of pints of whey in my fridge, from yogurt making. I'm so interested in lacto-fermentation. I guess it's time to dive in! Thanks!

  2. I'm trying lacto fermentation again, too, after trying sauerkraut last year. I don't remember which recipe I used; it might have been from Wild Fermentation.

    I just ran across this simple recipe for sauerkraut that I am going to try this weekend: http://www.butterbelle.ca/recipe/turning-vegetables-into-magic/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter


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