When your digestive system is feeling out of whack, the bacteria in your gut may be to blame for the unsavory effects. Eating lacto-fermented vegetables encourages the growth of friendly bacteria which aid in efficient digestion and nutrient absorption. The good bacteria can also crowd out the nasty bacteria.
Gena Hamshaw is the founder of a website called Choosing Raw. She says the lacto-fermentation process is very simple and will work with any fresh, crunchy vegetable. All you need are glass jars, and a brine of salt and water.
"I usually use a quart jar and I shred up a couple cups of veggies and I put them in. For the brine, I use a tablespoon of salt for about four-cups of water," says Hamshaw. "Some people also use vinegar when they do this, sometimes they use some sort of acid. But for me, salt and water has always worked really well."
Pour the brine over the vegetables and add a top layer such as cabbage leaves to hold them down under the brine. Screw on jar lids lightly so air bubbles can escape. The jars will then need to rest in a warm spot to activate the fermentation. Hamshaw puts hers on a sunny windowsill.
In about three-days, your veggies will be ready. They'll have an acidic, tart flavor, similar to sauerkraut. But Hamshaw also notes that the time allowed for fermentation will depend on your tastes.
"Some people like them tangier than other people like them. I find for me, three days is golden. That's exactly when I enjoy them," says Hamshaw. "But you can leave them up for up to five, and after two-and-a-half they might be ready as well. As soon as they're ready you can preserve them in the fridge, and they will last a very long time in there. I've certainly had them for weeks."
Once you get the hang of it, Hamshaw encourages experimenting with different herbs and spices to add even more flavor.
Folks around the country are holding workshops on lacto-fermentation.
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