Fermentation is a process used to produce many foods such as bread and cheese; and pleasurable delights, including beer, chocolate, coffee and yogurt. Cultures around the world have been fermenting longer than they have been cultivating the soil. Fermentation has some amazing health benefits like increasing digestion and bioavailability of nutrients, as well as managing and preventing disease, including H. pylori infection, cancer, liver disease, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and lactose intolerance. This is the fermentation station inside the Sustainable Kashi’s off grid eco-village demonstrating how you can ferment food you grow in your own back yard.
Here are some simple fermentation instructions:
- Prepare a brine using the ratio of two tablespoons of salt to one quart of water. If it is over 85 degrees in your kitchen, use one extra tablespoon of salt. Stir well and set aside.
- Chop vegetables into sticks or bite-sized pieces.
- Gather flavorings – garlic, onions, fresh herbs, or your favorite pickling spices.
- Add garlic, herbs, and spices to the bottom of your clean quart, half-gallon, or gallon jar.
- Add one of the following to keep your vegetables crisp: grape, horseradish, oak, black tea (yes the kind you drink)
- Place chopped vegetables atop flavorings, leaving at least 2 inches of headspace from the rim of the jar. Pour the brine over the vegetables so they are covered by at least one inch. Two to four inches is even better, but hard to achieve in quart jars.
- Weight down your vegetables so they stay below the brine while fermenting. I have used small plates that will fit into the jar opening, inverted plastic jar lids or a large cabbage leaf.
- Cap the jar tightly and allow to sit at 65-85 degrees for around 10 days, or more, depending on your preference. The longer they ferment at room temperature, the sourer they become.
- During the earliest stages of fermentation carbon dioxide is released. Check your jars once or twice a day to see if the lids are building up pressure. If you cannot press down on the canning lid as you normally would, very quickly and carefully “burp” your jar by slightly unscrewing the lid, allowing a bit of gas to escape, and screwing it back on quickly.
- Once completed, move to cold storage – a root cellar, a basement, a cool garage, anywhere below 65 degrees, or yes – a refrigerator.