Healthy Regenerative Lifestyle
Fermentation of food is seeing a resurgence due to the presence of probiotics in fermented foods and drinks. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that are good for our digestive system. They help keep our gut healthy.
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October 6, 2016
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We are all pretty familiar with fermentation and the production of alcohol. We don’t think as much about fermentation when it comes to food preservation. Instead of alcohol another product is produced: lactic acid. Lactic acid kills off harmful pathogens. This is what was used before proper cooking temperatures and refrigeration came about in modern times.
Some of the more popular foods that are fermented are sauerkraut and yogurt. They become sour because the sugar is changed to lactic acid.
Some worry if they should try to ferment food because of dealing with bacteria. It just so happens that this is one of the safest ways to preserve food as long as good food preparation techniques are used such as clean surfaces, washing your hands, and the vegetables being washed. Just common sense type of things to follow.
Sauerkraut is one of the best to try first for fermenting if you haven’t done it before. The recipe I will use is for 9 quarts and is taken from:
Preparing and Canning Fermented Foods and Pickled Vegetables
25 lbs cabbage
3/4 cup canning or pickling salt
Quality: For the best sauerkraut, use firm heads of fresh cabbage. Shred cabbage and start kraut between 24 and 48 hours after harvest.
Yield: About 9 quarts
Procedure: Work with about 5 pounds of cabbage at a time. Discard outer leaves. Rinse heads under cold running water and drain. Cut heads in quarters and remove cores. Shred or slice to a thickness of a quarter.
Put cabbage in a suitable fermentation container (see page 6-6), and add 3 tablespoons of salt.
Mix thoroughly, using clean hands.
Pack firmly until salt draws juices from cabbage. Repeat shredding, salting, and packing until all cabbage is in the container.
Be sure it is deep enough so that its rim is at least 4 or 5 inches above the cabbage.
If juice does not cover cabbage, add boiled and cooled brine (1-1/2 tablespoons of salt per quart of water). Add plate and weights; cover container with a clean bath towel.
Store at 70° to 75°F while fermenting. At temperatures between 70° and 75°F, kraut will be fully fermented in about 3 to 4 weeks; at 60° to 65°F, fermentation may take 5 to 6 weeks. At temperatures lower than 60°F, kraut may not ferment. Above 75°F, kraut may become soft.
If you weigh the cabbage down with a brine-filled bag, do not disturb the crock until normal fermentation is completed (when bubbling ceases).
If you use jars as weight, you will have to check the kraut two to three times each week and remove scum if it forms.
Fully fermented kraut may be kept tightly covered in the refrigerator for several months or it may be canned as follows: Hot pack—Bring kraut and liquid slowly to a boil in a large kettle, stirring frequently.
Remove from heat and fill hot jars rather firmly with kraut and juices, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Raw pack—Fill hot jars firmly with kraut and cover with juices, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed.
Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process.
This is just the start of things, once you have made sauerkraut you can move on to other garden vegetables and drinks like Kombucha. Now is the perfect time to try your own sauerkraut for Oktoberfest.
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Suitable containers, covers, and weights for fermenting food A 1-gallon container is needed for each 5 pounds of fresh vegetables.
Therefore, a 5-gallon stone crock is of ideal size for fermenting about 25 pounds of fresh cabbage or cucumbers. Food-grade plastic and glass containers are excellent substitutes for stone crocks.
Other 1- to 3-gallon nonfood-grade plastic containers may be used if lined inside with a clean food-grade plastic bag.
Caution: Be certain that foods contact only food-grade plastics. Do not use garbage bags or trash liners.
Fermenting sauerkraut in quart and half-gallon Mason jars is an acceptable practice, but may result in more spoilage losses.
Cabbage and cucumbers must be kept 1 to 2 inches under brine while fermenting. After adding prepared vegetables and brine, insert a suitably sized dinner plate or glass pie plate inside the fermentation container.
The plate must be slightly smaller than the container opening, yet large enough to cover most of the shredded cabbage or cucumbers.
To keep the plate under the brine, weight it down with 2 to 3 sealed quart jars filled with water. Covering the container opening with a clean, heavy bath towel helps to prevent contamination from insects and molds while the vegetables are fermenting.
Fine quality fermented vegetables are also obtained when the plate is weighted down with a very large clean, plastic bag filled with 3 quarts of water containing 4-1/2 tablespoons of canning or pickling salt. Be sure to seal the plastic bag.
Freezer bags sold for packaging turkeys are suitable for use with 5-gallon containers. The fermentation container, plate, and jars must be washed in hot sudsy water, and rinsed well with very hot water before use.
DiLonardo, Mary Jo. “What Are Probiotics?” WebMD. N.p., n.d. Web.
“Fermentation in Food Processing.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 03 Oct. 2016.
Beecher, Cookson. “Fermenting Veggies at Home: Follow Food Safety ABCs.”Food Safety News. N.p., Mar.-Apr. 2014. Web.
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