Have you gotten on the fermentation bandwagon? Ferments are a great way to preserve produce, and the only method that actually increases their nutritional value.
Say what??? Can anything be better than fresh, raw veggies right out of the garden? Why yes! Actually, ferments are high in beneficial enzymes, b vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and probiotics. Fermenting foods preserves nutrients and breaks them down into a more digestible form. In many cases, it also generates new nutrients or removes anti-nutrient toxins.
But maybe you don’t care for sauerkraut. It’s not unusual in our culture. Many of us were not fed sour foods as babies and did not develop a taste for them. And the sauerkraut we have tried has been dead. Literally, most sauerkraut has been pasteurized to make it shelf stable, which kills the beneficial probiotics that we so need.
See, our guts are completely colonized by these beneficial bacteria, but every time we take antibiotics we kill all of them. The antibiotics can’t distinguish between the good bacteria and the bad. Not only that, but every time we consume sugar, or simple carbohydrates such as white flour, we feed the bad bacteria instead of the good.
Most grocery store sauerkraut is not only dead, but the pasteurization process kills the texture as well. Nobody likes soft, mushy sauerkraut! Unfortunately, this has become the norm because people don’t understand that we need to keep the ferments alive to be the most beneficial to us. And it’s not just the beneficial bacteria, it is the vitamins and enzymes as well.
So if you are really serious about getting the maximum benefits out of your ferments, don’t can them! Just keep them in the refrigerator or cold storage and they should last 2-12 months, depending on how crisp they started out and how cold you keep them.
But if you don’t like sauerkraut, don’t despair! Here are 5 fantastic ferments that anyone can get behind. If you need more instruction, check out my post, Understanding Ferments on my blog. My kids love the dilly beans, a mild version of the salsa, and the chard stems. If you don’t like them at first, keep trying them. Sometimes we need a little adjustment period. Have a little bit each day to keep your gut happy. Soon you will be eating them for breakfast like my husband.
1. Dilly Beans
In the bottom of a pint or quart wide-mouth canning jar, put 2 cloves garlic and a dill flower head. Stuff the green beans in the jar so that they are wedged in and can’t float to the top. Pour in a 3-3.5% brine until the beans are completely covered. Let sit on your countertop for 3-7 days. Put lid on the jar and put it in the refrigerator.
Fill a jar with sliced onion, carrots, and jalapeños. Try to jam them in there so they do not float to the surface. Cover with 3-3.5% brine and ferment 3-7 days.
3. Hot Peppers
Put 1/2 teaspoon dried or fresh oregano in the bottom of a pint or quart wide-mouth canning jar. Slice a variety of peppers and put them in the jar. Banana peppers, Hungarian hot wax, serrano, habañero, jalapeño, or anything you have on hand can be used depending on how spicy you want it. Fill jar with brine and ferment 3-7 days.
4. Tomatillo Salsa
In a food processor, using the chopping blade, blend two pounds tomatillos, one onion, one bunch cilantro, 4 cloves garlic, one jalapeño, one juiced lime, and 5 teaspoons non-iodized salt. Put into jars. Ferment 3-7 days then put the lid on and put in the refrigerator.
5. Chard Stems
Fill a jar with chard stems cut to fit the height of the jar. Fill with cool, non-chlorinated water to the top of the jar and put the lid on loosely. Change the water every day for three days, then screw the lid on and refrigerate.