Part 2: Fermenting Vegetables: What You’ll Need
I thought I’d do a post on the things you’ll need to start fermenting your vegetables.
Dorene says that crocks with lids and a moat (which keeps air out), crocks with no lids, or wide mouth glass jars are all acceptable. (Note: Never use metal as the acid will eat it. Don’t use plastic containers as the acid may leach toxins into your ferment.) You’ll need a weight on top and you can use a plate that fits snugly with a jar of water on top, or a smaller jar of water set inside a larger jar. You can make hardwood circles to fit in the jars with a weight on top of that as well. You can use a boiled rock or a plastic zip lock bag filled with water for weight as well. The weight helps the vegetables stay beneath the liquid, preventing spoilage.
Use non-chlorinated, filtered water, vegetable or fruit juice, or wine.
Only use wooden or plastic spoons. Use a cloth bag or towel to tie over container to keep bugs and dust out if you aren’t using a crock with a lid. You can use plastic lids after the fermented veggies have been re-jarred. You'll need a wooden tool of some kind that is flat at the bottom and will fit inside your jars to tamp the fresh veggies down when you are fitting them into the jar. (See picture: my friend, Melinda, is tamping the veggies down with Dorene's handmade pounding stick)
Salt helps preserve the vegetables and draws out the water from the cells. Only use sea salt or a fine grain natural salt without iodine (antimicrobial). The more salt you use, the crispier the vegetables will be, but it will take more time for them to ferment. You can also use naturally soured whey or kefir grains as an innocculant if you want to decrease your fermentation time. NOTE: salt is not required but the taste is better and it helps it keep longer. If you choose not to use salt, use wine for the liquid.
5. The Best Vegetables to Use:
It is best to use vegetables that don’t produce a lot of liquids. For example, cabbages (green, red, nappa, bok choi), greens (collards, spinach, chard, kale), carrots, beets, celery, onions, garlic, broccoli, eggplant, summer squash, green tomatoes, cauliflower, radishes, green beans, turnips, burdock root, ginger root, hot peppers, sweet peppers, peas and pea pods, etc…
Since she makes really big batches, Dorene uses her Cuisinart food processor (same thing I have – love it!) to chop, slice or shred. Just make everything relatively the same thickness – no more than 1/8 inch wide.
Dorene suggests adding herbs (fresh or dried) for more flavor and to make it a healthier mix. Caraway seeds, juniper berries, dill, basil, cilantro, dandelion leaves and flowers, parsley, kelp, seaweeds, etc…
Apples and cabbage have been combined by the Germans. Fermented fruits are another option.
Well, that is it for today. I’ll post more on the process (with pictures) and packing soon.
God Bless, Jackie