I am not a fan of traditional sauerkraut but want to make the most of the health benefits of fermented veggies. I play around and come up with my own recipes which seem to mostly work a charm. It can sometimes be a bit of a hit and miss.
Veggies are lacto-fermented. Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. Lacto-fermentation also increases or preserves the vitamin and enzyme levels as well as digestibility.
All fruits and vegetables have beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus on the surface. In an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment, these bacteria convert sugars into lactic acid, which inhibits harmful bacteria and acts as a preservative. It’s also what gives fermented foods their characteristic sour flavour.
The process of lacto-fermentation happens when the starches and sugars within the vegetables are converted to lactic acid by the friendly bacteria lactobacilli. So, the term “lacto” in lacto-fermentation actually refers to this production of lactic acid, not lacto as in the lactose in milk.
Mould generally likes oxygen and a neutral pH but does not tolerate salt. Beneficial lactic acid bacteria are salt and acid tolerant. The longer the fermentation, the more acidic the solution becomes, hence discouraging mould.
Basis of most of my veggie ferments –
Cabbage – green or red or a mix.
Radishes or turnips
Your choice of spices or herbs. I usually only ever add a bit of mustard seed.
Get creative and add any other veg of your choice.
Chop the cabbage. If you want a nice crunchy ferment then chop into larger pieces. If you prefer it softer, cut smaller.
Grate the carrot.
Thinly slice the radishes or turnips.
Chop the garlic.
Slice the ginger.
Chop the chili and leave the seeds in if you want a spicy touch.
Add herbs and spices and anything else you choose.
Weigh the cabbage and carrots and add 2% of the weight in salt. Use a good quality mineral rich salt.
Massage until you have a large pool of liquid.
Add the other ingredients and mix together.
Add to your ferment jar. I use a clip-top jar. They prevent oxygen from getting in but allow built up pressure to escape. It also allows a blanket of carbon dioxide to form on the top of the vegetables which prevents spoilage.
Cover with a cabbage leaf and tuck in so that all of the veg is covered and submerged in liquid. Use a weight if necessary. Fill the jar as full as possible. If you leave too much space there will be oxygen in the jar and this can lead to spoilage.
Close the lid and place on a saucer to catch any spillage.
Try not to open the jar for the first 2 weeks as the veg may become contaminated. If the water level drops and does not rise again, you may need to add a 2% brine solution.
I leave my veg for 5 to 6 weeks before bottling.
Place in the fridge and enjoy!