HOW TO MAKE FERMENTED FOODS

LACTO-FERMENTED BEETS AND TURNIPS


Fermenting beets can get a bit tricky. Like fruit, beets have a relatively high sugar content that can convert to alcohol quite easily. To solve that problem, lacto-fermenting beets in small quantities with other vegetables such as turnips or cabbage is helpful. This classic combination of cold-weather root vegetable fermentation makes a lively addition to winter meals that can be lacking in much-needed enzymes and probiotics. INGREDIENTS: • 2 cups washed, quartered, and sliced turnips • 1 1/4 washed, quartered, and sliced beets • 2 Tbsp. salt • Water as needed INSTRUCTIONS: 1. Prepare turnips and beets. Add them to a quart jar, alternating layers so that the red and white are evenly distributed, leaving 1-1/2 inches of headspace. 2. Combine salt with 2 cups water. Pour over the vegetables, leaving 1-2 inches of headspace (just covering the vegetables). Weigh down as needed. 3. Cover jar with a lid and an airlock, if using. If you are not using an airlock be sure to “burp” the jars every day to release pent-up gases. 4. Allow to ferment at a cool room temperature for 3-12 days, depending on preference. Longer is usually better, especially for tough root vegetables. Transfer to cold storage.




HOMEMADE SAUERKRAUT


Sauerkraut is probably the most well-known lacto-fermented vegetable. Like any traditionally homemade food, sauerkraut can be made in a number of ways. Even if each kraut-making method is different there are a few common basics to remember when fermenting sauerkraut at home. TIPS FOR MAKING GOOD SAUERKRAUT 1. Use fresh cabbage. The better your ingredients, the better the finished product will be. 2. Use at least some salt. Salt is a traditional ingredient in sauerkraut because it increases shelf life, texture, and flavor. The amount of salt used can vary according to personal taste preference. We recommend 1 to 3 Tbsp. per quart of water. 3. Create an anaerobic environment. This is an absolute essential in the sauerkraut-making process. The cabbage must be completely submerged underneath a brine in order for the lactic acid bacteria to proliferate. This is important for protecting your ferment from unwanted bacteria (or mold). Fermentation weights can help keep your cabbage submerged. 4. Give it time. You can ferment sauerkraut for only a few days before moving to cold storage, but giving sauerkraut a lower temperature and longer fermentation time can develop the flavor and texture a little better. We suggest letting it ferment for 2 weeks, though experimenting with time and taste is the best way to determine what time frame works best for you. SUPPLIES FOR MAKING SAUERKRAUT When it comes to fermentation supplies, there are a lot of tools out there to choose from, each claiming to be the best solution for perfectly fermented kraut. This can be a bit overwhelming you're new to making fermented foods, and just trying to figure what you need to get started. Our tutorial Fermentation Equipment: Choosing the Right Supplies goes into detail about different options, but the reality is having the basics like a good knife, container for fermenting, a fermentation weight, and some sort of lid with an airlock is all you need to get started. METHODS FOR MAKING SAUERKRAUT 1. SLICING, POUNDING, AND KNEADING CABBAGE Thinly slice cabbage, salt it, then pound it with a tool such as the Cabbage Crusher or Pickle Packer for about 10 minutes, or until enough juice is released to form a brine and completely cover the cabbage. Move the cabbage and juice to fermentation containers, weight the cabbage down to keep it below the brine. Cover with tight-fitting lids, airlock lids, or a tight-weave cloth, secured with a rubber band. 2. WEIGHTING AND PRESSING KRAUT IN A CROCK Place shredded cabbage and salt in a large fermentation crock or bowl. Instead of pounding, weigh the cabbage down with heavy bowls or stones. Press on the weights regularly to draw the natural juices out of the cabbage and submerge the cabbage slowly in the brine. After a couple of days, with continued pressing, the cabbage will have accumulated a fair amount of liquid at the top, enough to cover the cabbage completely. 3. WHOLE CABBAGE HEADS WITH BRINE In this method the cabbage is not shredded or sliced prior to fermenting. Since whole cabbage heads cannot form their own brine fast enough to protect them from mold and unwanted yeasts a brine is generally created then used for fermenting. While this method is the least labor-intensive, it takes the longest. Four weeks or more are necessary before moving to cold storage because of the size of the cabbage heads. Below you'll find our basic sauerkraut recipe. This recipe utilizes the pounding and kneading method. It is a great place to start for anyone just beginning to explore fermented vegetables. Once you've mastered the basics, you can vary this recipe by adding other vegetables, herbs, and spices. Or use one of our sauerkraut recipes for inspiration. HOMEMADE SAUERKRAUT RECIPE INGREDIENTS: • 1 Medium Head of Cabbage • 1-3 Tbsp. sea salt INSTRUCTIONS: 1. Chop or shred cabbage. Sprinkle with salt. 2. Knead the cabbage with clean hands, or pound with a potato masher or Cabbage Crusher about 10 minutes, until there is enough liquid to cover. 3. Stuff the cabbage into a quart jar, pressing the cabbage underneath the liquid. If necessary, add a bit of water to completely cover cabbage. 4. Cover the jar with a tight lid, airlock lid, or coffee filter secured with a rubber band. 5. Culture at room temperature (60-70°F is preferred) for at least 2 weeks until desired flavor and texture are achieved. If using a tight lid, burp daily to release excess pressure. 6. Once the sauerkraut is finished, put a tight lid on the jar and move to cold storage. The sauerkraut's flavor will continue to develop as it ages. VARIATIONS: For a more complex flavor add caraway seeds (to taste). Prior to culturing, you can also mix 1 part other vegetables or ingredients (shredded carrots, apples, etc.) with 5 parts cabbage to vary the recipe.




LACTO-FERMENTED SPINACH


Fermentation modifies the sometimes bitter taste of spinach, making it more sour and salty instead. The lemon adds a fresh bright flavor. INGREDIENTS: • Enough spinach to tightly fill a wide-mouth quart jar, rinsed lightly, stems removed • 5 cloves garlic, minced fine • 2 tsp. sea salt • 1 cup unfiltered water • 1 Tbsp. whey or brine from a previous ferment (optional) • ½ lemon with peel, thinly sliced INSTRUCTIONS: 1. Cut the spinach into strips, a bit wider than those you would cut for sauerkraut. 2. In a large bowl or crock, layer salt with spinach and garlic, tossing them together with your hands. 3. When it is all in the bowl, press the ingredients down a bit with a fist; cover the bowl lightly with a towel. Allow the bowl to sit for 15 to 30 minutes to let the juices begin to draw and blend. 4. Take the towel off now and again to pound the spinach down with clean hands, a Cabbage Crusher or similar utensil. 5. Begin packing handfuls of the salted spinach into a clean quart jar. Periodically add a slice of lemon, layering and pressing the lemons and the spinach into the jar. 6. Once the jar is filled with the spinach mixture and the lemons, pour water in slowly, only adding enough to bring the liquid level up to 1 inch away from the mouth of the jar. 7. Cover jar with a clean lid. Ferment at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, burping and pressing down the spinach daily. 8. Transfer to cool storage. Ferment spinach stalks separately instead of discarding.




LACTO-FERMENTED RAW SWEET POTATOES


Fermentation modifies the sometimes bitter taste of spinach, making it more sour and salty instead. The lemon adds a fresh bright flavor. INGREDIENTS: • Enough spinach to tightly fill a wide-mouth quart jar, rinsed lightly, stems removed • 5 cloves garlic, minced fine • 2 tsp. sea salt • 1 cup unfiltered water • 1 Tbsp. whey or brine from a previous ferment (optional) • ½ lemon with peel, thinly sliced INSTRUCTIONS: 1. Cut the spinach into strips, a bit wider than those you would cut for sauerkraut. 2. In a large bowl or crock, layer salt with spinach and garlic, tossing them together with your hands. 3. When it is all in the bowl, press the ingredients down a bit with a fist; cover the bowl lightly with a towel. Allow the bowl to sit for 15 to 30 minutes to let the juices begin to draw and blend. 4. Take the towel off now and again to pound the spinach down with clean hands, a Cabbage Crusher or similar utensil. 5. Begin packing handfuls of the salted spinach into a clean quart jar. Periodically add a slice of lemon, layering and pressing the lemons and the spinach into the jar. 6. Once the jar is filled with the spinach mixture and the lemons, pour water in slowly, only adding enough to bring the liquid level up to 1 inch away from the mouth of the jar. 7. Cover jar with a clean lid. Ferment at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, burping and pressing down the spinach daily. 8. Transfer to cool storage. Ferment spinach stalks separately instead of discarding.





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