Back in the good old days when people lived off the fat of the land, wore fancy clothes and made deep dish pies and homestyle fried chicken, lacto-fermented veggies were as common as muck.
Jars as far as the eye could see filled with preserved cucumbers, cabbage, beetroot, radish, carrot – you name it! And all without the use of canning machines or freezers.
Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions (GREAT read) is a huge proponent of fermenting various fruits and veggies with the help of lactic acid because of its many benefits. Here is an excerpt from her website (www.westonaprice.org):
“Like the fermentation of dairy products, preservation of vegetables and fruits by the process of lacto-fermentation has numerous advantages beyond those of simple preservation. The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine. Other alchemical by-products include hydrogen peroxide and small amounts of benzoic acid.”
I am all about eating in a manner that aids digestion, and consuming lacto-fermented produce is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to do this! Just a few days ago I made a batch of lacto-fermented sauerkraut – the genuine article that is. For some, the flavour takes a little getting used to, as it’s quite different to the stuff you can buy at the supermarket, but after making my first batch some time ago, I whacked a big dollop on top of some bacon and eggs and immediately fell in love love love.
The following recipe for Sauerkraut is from Nourishing Traditions – the aforementioned book from Sally Fallon. Hope you enjoy it!
1 head of cabbage, cored and shredded
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons whey
1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional)
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients through well with your hands. Next, pound the cabbage mixture with a wooden meat hammer (or something similar – I use the end of my rolling pin) for about ten minutes in order to release the juices. Next, pack it all into a 1 litre jar – very tightly, leaving at least an inch between the sauerkraut and the lid. I forgot to do this once and quickly found my bench covered in the brine that had bubbled up and out of my jar… Oops! Finally, pop on the lid and leave the jar either in the pantry or on the counter (out of the sun) for 3 days before transferring to the fridge! You can eat it straight away, but it gets better with time.
I eat mine straight away.
Next up on my ‘lacto-fermented recipe trials’ agenda is some kind of relish… And my mouth is literally watering as I type.