Fermented vegetables have gone through a process that serves to preserve the food while also creating a number of beneficial enzymes, including omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and numerous strains of probiotics. Naturally fermented foods have also been shown to break down food so that they can be more easily digested while also preserving important nutrients.
Benefits of Fermented Vegetables
Along with tasting great, fermented foods offer a number of important health benefits.
By eating fermented foods on a regular basis, you can benefit from the introduction of beneficial bacteria into your digestive tract. Along with being shown to slow down or possibly even reverse some diseases, probiotics also assist in proper digestion, improve bowel health, and improve immunity.
2. Better Absorption
When you are able to maintain a proper balance of bacteria in your digestive tract and possess a sufficient amount of digestive enzymes, you will be better able to absorb more nutrients in the foods you consume. When combined with a healthy diet, you may find that you no longer need as many vitamins and supplements.
3. Friendly Budget
While increasing the amount of healthy foods in your diet can be expensive, fermented foods are actually budget friendly. In fact, you can make many fermented foods at home for just pennies per serving. By including these foods in your diet, you can also reduce the number of purchased supplements you require, thus stretching your budget even further.
4. Easy to Preserve Foods
The lacto-fermentation process also makes it easy for you to store great-tasting food for longer with no worries over losing essential nutrients. This can be accomplished with a host of garden foods.
How to Ferment Vegetables
Although it is possible to benefit from wild fermentation by simply allowing the fruit or vegetable to culture on its own, this can take a long time. Using starter culture can significantly speed up the process.
Glass mason jars make quick work of the fermentation process and eliminate the need to transfer the food to a separate container when you are finished. In addition, you can also produce smaller batches.
- Begin by cutting and shredding the selected vegetables.
- Juice celery to be used as a brine solution. The natural sodium in celery will provide the anaerobic process necessary while reducing or eliminating the need to use sea salt for the elimination of pathogenic bacteria.
- Pack the celery juice and the vegetables with the starter culture. Kefir and whey both make excellent starter cultures, but you can also use a commercial starter powder. Pour this in a 32-ounce wide-mouthed glass canning jar. You can use a pounding tool to help pack the mixture into the jar and get rid of any possible air pockets.
- Tuck a cabbage leaf into the jar on top of the vegetable solution. The vegetables should be completely covered with celery juice. In addition, make sure the celery juice comes up to the top of the jar to eliminate any air that may have become trapped.
- Now, seal the jar in a location that is warm and slightly moist for a minimum of 24 hours. This process may take up to 96 hours. The ideal temperature in this location should range between 68 degrees and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature should not exceed 85 degrees as heat kills the microbes.
- When finished, the food should be stored in the refrigerator. This will help to slow down the fermentation process.
Watch this video which can guide you to ferment vegetables rightly:
How to Store Fermented Vegetables
Fermented vegetables do not need to be stored in a heated environment. They should be stored in an environment that maintains an average temperature of around 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
- One option is to place the jars in a portable cooler and keep it stored off the floor. Before placing the jars into the cooler, wrap them in an old towel.
- Next, place a separate jar of hot water into the cooler. This will keep the environment warm. From time to time, replace the jar of hot water to maintain the warm environment.
- Alternatively, you can wrap the jars in a towel and place them in a baking dish and then place that in the oven. The heat should be off, but keep the oven light on. This will be sufficient for keeping the vegetables warm. You may also place the jars in a dehydrator set at the lowest temperature.
Tips to Make Delicious Fermented Vegetables
Keep the following tips in mind to create tasty fermented vegetables:
- Make sure that cabbage comprises the majority of your vegetable blend. Other options that make an excellent base include sweet potatoes, turnips, carrots, beets, and other root veggies. Cabbage is less expensive, however.
- Around five medium-sized heads of cabbage will produce between 10 and 14 quart-size jars of fermented vegetables. Green or red cabbage can be used, but they should be heavy and hard. Look for densely packed leaves, as leafier head will usually not ferment as well.
- You can feel free to add other veggies per your tastes. Options might include butternut squash, bell peppers of all colors, parsley, dill, collards, kale, and beets. If you do choose to use bell pepper, do so only sparingly as they can leave a strong taste.
- Make sure you use only organic vegetables.
- Remember to include the skins of your vegetables. They add excellent flavor.
- When you add aromatic vegetables, such as garlic or onion, keep in mind that the flavor will be multiplied as a result of the fermentation process. Do not overdo it and remember that just a little will go a long way.
- If you choose to add herbs, add them only in small amounts. Great options include sage, basil, thyme, rosemary, and oregano.
- Seaweed and sea vegetables are a great choice to increase the vitamin, mineral and fiber content of your fermented vegetables. Sea palm and wakame should be presoaked before using. Hijiki and arame will bring a fishy flavor to the blend.
- Two packets of commercial starter culture should be used for a 12-14 jar batch if you are making it during the summer. In the winter, plan to use three packets.
- Vegetables will typically take about three to four days to complete during the summer. The process may take up to seven days during the winter. Once completed, open the jar and use a clean spoon to remove a small sample. Never eat directly from the jar. When you are pleased with the consistency and flavor, the jars can then be stored in the refrigerator.