Lacto-Fermented Vegetables

Lacto-fermented Vegetables Keys to success: Quality produce, proper salt and proper salt concentration, spring water and temperature during fermentation. Quality Produce: Home grown organic bio-dynamic produce is best, second is produce from an organic CSA or local organic farm stand at the very least produce from a local traditional farm stand or farmers market you trust. Proper Salt: Hand raked sea salt is best. Second is regular sea salt and at the very least use kosher or pickling salt. The trace elements found in the hand raked sea salt are good for you and the fermentation process. Never use rock salt, salt substitute or iodized salt. Proper Salt concentration: Most cut vegetables that make their own brine ferment well at a concentration of one and one half percent or one and one half pound of salt per one hundred pounds of vegetables. Lucky for us that works out to one teaspoon per pound of vegetables. If you can remember “ A pint’s a pound the world around” it will make it very easy to make small batches, example: a pint jar will hold a pound of shredded cabbage and take a teaspoon of salt. Whole vegetables (cukes, tomatoes, radishes etc.) are fermented in brine of one tablespoon per quart of volume. Spring Water: The chlorine in municipal water will kill the natural yeast and flora needed to produce fermentation and the high iron and mineral content in some well and municipal water will produce a cloudy pickle with an off taste. Only use good quality spring water to make your brine. Temperature during fermentation: The lacto bacteria thrive in the mid 60 degree range. The first fermentation should take place between 65 and 70 degrees F so that enough acidity develops to suppress potential spoilage bacteria. After three days the vegetables should be taken down to 50 deg. Or lower to slow cure and develop full flavor. To high a temperature at the start will allow spoilage bacteria to take over and fast curing at higher temperatures results in a mushy product with an off taste. Procedure for krauts and cut vegetables: Lightly brush soil from vegetables and trim rinse in non-chlorinated water. Do not scrub or use vegetable wash it is very important to keep the natural yeast and flora on the vegetables. Use a non- reactive knife or cuter to uniformly slice the vegetables. Weigh and add sea salt a teaspoon per pound mix well and allow to form their own brine. Prepare clean jars with hot water or washing soda; remember you will need a quart jar for every 2 pounds of vegetables. When the vegetables have developed some brine it is time to pack the jars. Pack tightly using a small portion at a time being sure to remove all air spaces the tighter they are packed the crisper they will be. Fill jars to within ¾ inch from the top allowing brine to come up over vegetables. Cap loosely with plastic lids or new canning lids and place jars on a plastic or glass tray to catch the brine that will over flow during fermentation. Procedure for whole vegetable pickles: Clean vegetables as before, add one tablespoon of sea salt to an empty quart jar add whole herbs if called for and spices then pack in whole vegetables and fill with spring water cap loosely with a clean lid and shake gently a few times. Please: Work in a clean and sanitary area, cover cut vegetables and keep from flies and insects. Use non-reactive cutters and bowls, if end product looks funny or smells bad discard and try again. When in doubt throw it out! Above all have fun and share!!!!! Many Thanks: to N.O.F.A. summer conference 2000 and Mr. Peter Young PO Box 26,Marshfield Vt. 05658 for sharing his knowledge at a workshop Organic Greg PO Box 165 Woodmere NY 11598 www.organicgreg.org