Today just about all of the products in the grocery store are pasteurized and sterilized. Sterilization of our food supply is having very negative consequences so it is important to learn how to ferment your own food from organic sources. Once you have fermented the food, it is important not to cook it or you will inevitably lose all the healthful properties you worked so hard to create.
The art of fermentation involves some experimentation to obtain a final product suitable to your taste. Some people love a very sour ferment where others prefer a milder taste. With just a little bit of trial and error you can become an expert in the ancient art of fermentation. Teaching children how to ferment their food is very educational, helps them relate better to what real food is, helps to bring back beneficial ancient traditions and restores our health and sense of community when this natural science is shared with others.
Some of the ferments I have made so far...are...kombucha tea, kefir (a type of fermented milk), kefir cheese, fermented salsa, turnips, carrots and cabbage. These fermented foods have a very fresh, bright and zippy taste. They are a great accompaniment to meat and are very helpul in aiding in the digestion of this food. I was very disappointed a year or so ago when a law was passed that cider was required to be pasteurized in CT. One no longer has access to the natural fermentation process which results in hard cider and lots of beneficial active bacteria. It's interesting to note that hard cider is now sold as a wine and is very expensive. However, after the hard cider is made....it is pasteurized. So...while you have some alcohol present in this commercial hard cider, there is no beneficial bacteria.
The picture below was my first try at making fermented vegetables. I happened to be growing purple and green cabbage that year so I layered the 2 different colors and this is the effect that resulted. Kinda pretty, isn't it? The smaller jar is fermented turnips
I would like to share with you a basic sauerkraut recipe which I got fromNourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats
and to which I added a couple more ingredients.
1 medium head cabbage, shredded
10 whole cloves
1 TBSP caraway seeds
1 TBSP sea salt
4 TBSP whey or if not available use an extra TBSP of salt
Mix together the cabbage with the rest of the ingredients in a fairly large pan or sturdy bowl. Pound the contents with a wooden pounder or other similar implement...for about 10 minutes until the juices have leached out of the cabbage. The lactic acid, plus the whey and or the salt...is what preserves the cabbage and lets the mixture ferment into saurkraut. Place the contents into a wide mouthed quart mason jar and pack/pound the cabbage in tight as you add more cabbage. Fill the jar to an inch of the rim and keep pressing the cabbage down until an inch of liquid covers the top of the cabbage. Cover tightly and store at room temperature for about 3 days and then store in the refridgerator. You may want to set the jars on some sort of plate or tray because during the three days of storing at room temperature, some of the juice may leak out of the jars. This is fine. You may also taste the kraut to see if it has aged enough.You can adjust the sourness of the kraut by the length of time you leave it at room temperature and the length of time that you store it in the fridge before you eat it. It can be eaten immediately after it has aged at room temperature but it might taste better or more kraut like after it has aged further in the refridgerator.
The above method is a quick method for making smaller amounts of sauerkraut or you can use a crock for longer fermentation and larger amounts. I have used the old fashioned type of crock
and the results were good but I did have to throw out the top layer which got a bit moldy. I have more recently acquired the two crocks below. They are fairly expensive but they pretty much guarantee a foolproof batch of fermented vegetables.The Harsch company that sells them has an exclusive design which seals the contents of the crock with a water barrier.
If you would like to learn more about the many foods that can be enhanced and preserved through the fermentation process and if you want to create food that is healthy and alive....you will want to read The Nourishing Traditions Cookbook that I linked to above and another great book on this subject is Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods