Fermented Foods are having a serious moment.
Their resurrection and mind-boggling rise in popularity have a lot to do with digestive support. Fermented foods help boost immunity, fight inflammation, and contain beneficial bacterial created through a process called lacto-fermentation.
Lacto-fermentation is a microbial process using beneficial bacteria including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium spp. and other lactic acid bacteria (LAB) (commonly known as probiotics), which thrive in an anaerobic fermenting environment.
Recipe: fill jar with berries, pour raw honey in to cover, give it a little stir every day, and when it gets bubbly, use the berries and the syrup to make tasty things even tastier), and a little over two gallons of berries in the freezer, about 15 pounds total.
The lactobacillus bacteria, are a category of beneficial bacteria that thrive on sugar and produce lactic acid as a byproduct. This is why lacto-fermented foods taste acidic. Most lacto-fermented foods are nothing more than whole, chopped, sliced or grated vegetables soaked in a brine of salt water stored for a period of time at room temperature.
One of the most important steps in home fermentation is keeping vegetables submerged in a brine to prevent mold or harmful bacteria from growing. The beneficial lactobacillus bacteria are part of an anaerobic category of bacteria, meaning that it doesn’t need oxygen for production. Use these tips to ensure you’re creating an anaerobic environment:
Salt prevents unwanted bacteria from overpowering the lactobacillus. Using salt also helps the vegetables stay crunchy by drawing water out of them. This extracted water can then act as the liquid for the brine.
Make sure your fermentation vessel and weights are immaculately clean. You can easily sterilize them with boiling water or by running them through a cycle in your dishwasher. Then let them air-dry. Choose a glass vessel. Do not use a lid that exposes bare metal to the ferment; it may rust. Select a lid that is ‘lined’ or plastic. Store in a cool, dark place, ideally between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
If a fuzzy raised, white/blue mold appears on your ferment, throw it out. You’ll have to start over again. Unlike with cheese, you’re not trying to grow mold, and the type of mold that forms on your ferment will not be a type you can or want to ingest. When in doubt, it’s best to stay cautious and start over. Kahm yeast – a milky white substance that appears on the surface – on the other hand, is safe and can be scraped off. Kahm yeast is flat, except where bubbles from when CO2 is trapped. It may have a yeasty smell and look powdery. On the downside, the flavor of kahm can affect the flavor of your ferment so spoon it off.
For a pretty look, buy small carrots that still have their green tops attached, and trim the tops down to 1/4 to 1/2 inch. These fermented veggies taste great as an addition to a Bloody Mary or veggie tray or on top of a Cuban sandwich. Also, use them to jazz up scrambled eggs, salads, rice, quinoa bowls and tabbouleh.
The tangy, sour flavor of preserved lemons is powerful, so a little goes a long way. Be sure to wash the preserved lemons before eating the rind. Discard the salty lemon pulp and slice the rinds for a variety of uses. They add brightness, salt and depth to tagines, stews, grain salads, dressings, relishes, roasted poultry, seafood, marinades, and sauces. Add them to hummus or use as a garnish for labneh (fermented yogurt cheese). They’re also a delicious way to brighten up a stuffing or roasted vegetables. A jar of preserved lemons makes a wonderful gift for foodies!