Though colder, snuggle-up weather appears to have arrived, we are still appreciating the bounty of the year’s harvest here in California. Now’s our chance to stock up our freezer, fridge and pantry with local, organic produce before the farmer’s markets run slim or the grocery store gives way to less nutritious produce, picked too early and shipped too far.
One of my favorite ways to preserve food is through the artistic process of lacto-fermentation. This practice maintains the flavor of vegetables and fruits beautifully, while improving their nutritional worth with lovely, life-giving beneficial bacteria.
Lacto-Fermented foods can:
- Encourage healthy digestion
- Optimize gut flora (in the same manner as yogurt or probiotics)
- Assist in detoxification
- Lengthen the shelf life of foods without the use of harmful preservatives
The basic process of fermentation goes like this: take shredded or chopped veggies (like cabbage for sauerkraut), and submerge them under liquid or the vegetables’ own juices, always with added salt. Salt helps draw out the liquid from the vegetables as well as inhibits the growth of unwanted bacteria. Whey can be added to speed up the process and ensure a consistently successful ferment. The mixture is sealed in an airtight container (like a glass Mason jar) where the naturally present bacteria work their magic at room temperature for 3-5 days. The final result will be tangy, soft and delicious. Once fermented to your liking, the veggies are ready to be eaten or stored in the refrigerator, slowing down the fermentation process and aging your ferment to perfection for up to 8 months. (Source: Weston A. Price Foundation)
Ferments take time, but little effort. Trading some common condiments for a homemade, lacto-fermented version is a great first step in upgrading your daily routine. Consider switching from store-bought ketchup or mayonnaise to a fermented version. It takes a little preparation, but once it’s done, you’ll have a nourishing item to add to each meal in your fridge for up to 8 months.
A Recipe for Quick Salsa
- salsa, store-bought, ideally organic and fresh from the refrigerated section
- Mason jar with lid
- Transfer salsa into the Mason jar.
- Stir in whey with a spoon. You will need 1Tbsp. whey per cup of salsa.
- Cover jar with lid and let ferment on the counter for 2-3 days.
- The salsa is ready to eat after 2-3 days and can be kept in the fridge for up to 6 months.
- If you need some instant gratification, Bay-Area locals can find raw, lacto-fermented sauerkraut at their local farmer’s market from Farmhouse Culture.
- Have favorite ferments of your own? Know of a local source for raw sauerkraut? Let us know on Facebook!
“God made yeast, as well as dough, and loves fermentation just as dearly as he loves vegetation.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson