Friday, August 6, 2010

experiments in fermentation

thanks to nourishing traditions and wild fermentation, i got up the courage to do my first lacto-fermentation projects! i had extra cabbage and beets from my csa, so i decided to make kimchi (korean sour kraut) and sour beets.

a primer in lacto-fermentation:
lacto-fermentation is a food preservation method that our ancestors used before conventional hot water bath/pressure cooker canning methods came to be. it uses an acid in the form of whey, vinegar, kefir or salt to inhibit the growth of bad bacteria while allowing good bacteria such as lactobacilli to grow and preserve the food. lactobacilli and his gang of bacteria friends are a wonderful bunch. they promote a healthy immune system, improve digestion and help to keep the balance of good/bad bacteria and yeasts in check in our bodies. God designed our bodies to be a certain pH level and have enough good bacteria in our GI tract to fight disease and keep us healthy. a conventional western diet, unfortunately, does not provide the opportunity for good bacteria to gain the advantage and the pH level gets to levels that are unhealthy (side note: we are talking about tenths of a percent difference here. it might not seem like much of a difference to go from 7.45 to 7.55, but a change like this can have huge consequences for the human body. THIS is how intricately God designed our bodies!). add in our frequent use of antibiotics in health care and in food (this article shows the usda and fda have recently conceded that antibiotics used in livestock DOES effect humans upon consumption), we are constantly killing our bodies natural defenses against disease and discomfort.

since increasing the amount of probiotics in my diet through raw milk, raw homemade yogurt and milk kefir, water kefir, kombucha and cultured butter, my former (almost debilitating) GI health issues are gone! i feel so much better and can eat so many more foods than i used to be able to. my former gallbladder issues have vanished. i can consume dairy without the lactose intolerance problems i used to battle. i feel like a freed woman! praise God!

okay, on to the food.

i looked up the kimchi recipe in wild fermentation and went to work getting everything chopped and ready. tell ya what, cooking sometimes calls for getting creative with 'working with what you have'. this pic is my bowl of produce weighing down the kimchi vegetables in their brine so that they could get soft. they have to stay under the brine for a few hours to overnight. mine took about an hour actually.

after the vegetables were soft, they could be packed into jars for fermentation and storage. my batch made exactly two quarts worth of kimchi. here's what one looked like:
i didn't get any pics of the beets and carrots that i did, because by that time my kitchen was a mess and my hands looked like i had just committed a felony (i was covered in purple-red beet juice which, to my surprise, did not stain my skin or counter top). i can give you a short recap though. i shredded my beets (yellow and red) along with several carrots. these got mixed with about a tablespoon of salt and then were pounded with a kitchen utensil to get the water out of them. the water mixed with the salt became the brine in which the vegetables would sour/pickle. i added carraway seeds for some flavor then packed it into a small pint sized jelly jar.

i have been tasting the kimchi every day, and i think i like it at day 4. you can ferment it for a week (some koreans ferment it up to six months. no thank you.). it is slightly sour, very tangy and still a bit crunchy. stinky? yes. it's fermented cabbage and onions and garlic. but it's really good if you have a taste for tangy foods.

i have a feeling that there will be more vegetable fermentation in the future. there are recipes for fermented salsas and chutneys that i'd like to try. and of course there will be plenty of beverage fermentation too!

a fun, easy way to get probiotics in your diet...and try a science experiment at the same time :)


Samantha said...

I want some (for my Christmas present maybe....) =)

Robin said...

YUM!! I made some sauer kraut and it is DELICIOUS! Let me know how it turns out (which I'm sure it'll be great too). Isn't it fun to experiment in the kitchen?!