Gardeners work hard to grow their own food! Why would you ever want to waste that abundance? If you don’t have a large family, you’re stuck with finding a way to preserve it. That’s where lacto-fermenting vegetables comes into play.
In lacto-fermentation, we’re relying on a mix of lactic acid and salt. Fermenting vegetables with salt reduces the possibility of unwanted dangerous bacteria. Meanwhile, lactic acid bacteria naturally preserve our veggies. They become probiotic-rich through this process, turning from great food into superfoods!
We want to help you learn how to store all those garden delicacies. You did a lot of work to get those veggies in the first place. Don’t waste them… ferment them! We have the right equipment for an easy fermentation process available at the Epic Gardening Shop, and they make fermenting your homegrown produce a breeze:
The Tools You’ll Need
The right tools will make or break your preservation techniques.
Normal fermentation involves “burping” your jars two to three times a day. This releases the pressure that forms as the lactic acid bacteria are hard at work. Unfortunately, it also can let dangerous bacteria in at the same time.
With Kraut Source, you don’t have to burp your jars. This innovative stainless steel fermentation unit relieves the pressure while keeping dangerous bacteria out. The main body of the Kraut Source is sturdy stainless steel, but an FDA-certified food-safe silicone gasket included with the kit provides the perfect seal for your jars. Every Kraut Source fermentation kit includes an instructional booklet and a jute bag for easy storage between ferments.
You’ll also need just a few more things, most of which you’ve probably already got:
- Mason Jars: Wide-mouthed mason jars are perfect. These allow for ease in packing the jars and fit perfectly with your Kraut Source. Fermenting vegetables in mason jars is super-easy and reliable.
- Water: You’ll need pure, filtered water that doesn’t have chloride, chloramine, or fluoride in it. We recommend using distilled water when possible for simplicity’s sake
- Salt: Choose high quality sea salts. Avoid common table salt, which contains preservatives and additives and doesn’t work well for fermentation.
- Garden-Fresh Produce: Of course, you need the food to preserve! The fresher it is, the better your final results. I like to harvest my veggies right before I begin so they’re at their peak flavor and freshness. Harvest early in the morning so they’re at peak moisture levels, then go inside and prep your ferment!
Fermentation’s Not Just For Cabbage
The first thing that most people think of when they’re learning how to ferment is sauerkraut.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I adore sauerkraut. But I grow a lot more than just cabbage in my garden, and I need to preserve the other stuff too!
We also sell a fantastic cookbook produced by the makers of Kraut Source that showcases recipes for a much more diverse selection of fermenting vegetables. They include a mix of sauerkraut recipes, but they’ve also got much more.
The closer your plant is to the soil level, the more natural lactobacillus it may contain. So don’t forget your root vegetables can be fermented, too. Want to make pickled beets and eggs? There’s a recipe for that. Jicama and corn? That’s a possibility too!
Even fruit can be fermented. There’s a great recipe in Kraut Source’s book for cherries with vanilla and cocoa nibs. Don’t forget your chutneys – a raw apple and cranberry chutney is easy to make. You can even do fermented cocktails!
But let’s talk about one of the most underappreciated fermented vegetables today. The humble carrot is rich in beta-carotene, vitamin-packed, and contains lots of fiber. They also ferment extremely well. Here’s a recipe straight from Kraut Source for how to highlight this nutritive powerhouse in a way that really showcases the carrot’s natural sweetness and the crispness of cucumbers, paired with the garlicky flavor and beauty of whole garlic chive flowers!
Recipe: Carrots And Cucumbers With Garlic Chive Flowers
Ingredients & Tools:
- 12 ounces (340g) carrots, shredded
- 8 ounces (226g) cucumber, any variety, cut into small half-moon pieces
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons (22.5ml) sea salt
- 1/3 cup (80ml) loosely packed garlic chive flowers. (If you don’t have chive flowers, you can use chives instead.)
- 1/3 cup (80ml) organic raisins
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 1 quart-size wide mouth mason jar
- Kraut Source fermentation unit
- A wooden pounder or large spoon
- filtered water
Place the carrots and cucumbers in a large, non-reactive bowl (glass, stainless steel, or ceramic). Add in the salt and massage well. (Tip: Take at least 5-6 minutes to work the salt into your veggies thoroughly.)
Allow the mixture to rest for at least 30 minutes. Some liquid from the vegetables will be drawn out by the salt.
Add in the garlic chive flowers (or chives), raisins, and bay leaf. Stir to combine.
Place about 1/3rd of the mixture into the mason jar. Use a spoon or wooden pounder to pack it down. Add in the next third, and pack it down. Repeat to fill the remainder of the jar, once again packing it down tightly when full.
Place your Kraut Source fermenter onto the jar and wait for 24 hours. During this time, more liquid should be released. There should be enough to cover the vegetables by one inch (2.5cm). If not, remove Kraut Source and add more brine. (Tip: dissolve 1 teaspoon or 5ml sea salt in 1 cup/240ml hot filtered water to make a brine, and allow to cool before adding to jar.)
Once the Kraut Source fermenter is in place, add water to the moat on the Kraut Source fermenter. Place in a cool location away from direct sunlight. Allow it to ferment for 7-8 days, checking every couple of days to be sure there’s water in the moat. Top off the moat as needed.
When the ferment has achieved a taste that’s to your liking, remove the Kraut Source fermenter. Replace it with a standard mason jar lid and ring, and place it in the refrigerator.
You can now start using your fermented carrots and cucumbers in meals or as a tasty snack!
There’s an entire world of fermenting awaiting you… so why wait? Extend that harvest for a little longer and enjoy your vegetables in a new way. Your asparagus or red cabbage doesn’t have to be boring when it could be extraordinary!