Did you know that all pickles are not created alike? Most times when you purchase pickles, sauerkraut or other pickled vegetables you are getting pickles that are made with vinegar and are pasteurized. (even many farmers market pickles). They are pasteurized to kill any stray bacteria and make them shelf stable.
Lacto-fermented pickles (aka raw lactic acid fermentation or naturally fermented) are not pasteurized. They are made by allowing the bacteria, particularly lactobacillus which is on most living things to ferment. Lactobacillus bacteria thrive in a salty non aerobic environment which is what you will make as you are fermenting this way. Salt not only adds flavor but it creates an environment that favors the good bacteria over the bad bacteria. The lactobacillus ferments and creates lactic acid and amazing probiotics.
Why is this good for you?
- The vegetables are a living food filled with enzymes and probiotics
- They are healthier for your digestive system
- Creates a speedy recovery for anyone with a yeast or candida issue
- Helps remove inflammation from the gut
- Helps increase the nutrients in the vegetables you are fermenting
- Are filled with healthy bacteria that we are finding is essential to a healthy immune system
How to make your own lacto-fermented veggies:
You need an anaerobic environment for your vegetables. There can be no air available for the vegetables to grab a hold of or you may get mold. There are many ways in which to do this. When I was first introduced to making sauerkraut (pickled cabbage) I processed it as I was instructed to, then needed to find something to hold it down under the fluid like a stone and be careful that no bacteria grew. I found this was too much work for me. Last year I came across a very cool tool called the Perfect Pickler (which you can find on my website now since I loved it so much) I can now make these recipes in minutes and not worry about mold
- Salt is necessary. The first thing the salt does is kill bacteria in the jar but it doesn't kill lactobacillus which thrives in a salt environment. Make sure to choose a mineral rich salt like celtic, himalayan or I use a brand called Real Salt.
- What can you pickle? cabbage, beets, cauliflower, beans, cucumbers. I find that when pickling cucumbers you need to make sure to put a grape leaf in the jar. ( I harvest wild grape leaves and dry them, but you can also purchase a jar of grape leaves and use them). Grape leaves contain tannins which stops the cucumbers from getting mushy and keeps them crisp.
Amazing Pickled Beans: Since beans were so prolific this year in my garden I decided to pickle them. YUMMM All you need to do is cut off the end of the bean and stuff them in a wide mouth mason jar. I packed the jar filled with beans, leaving 2 inches at the top of the jar. I added 3 chopped up garlic cloves, some fresh dill, rosemary and thyme along with a grape leaf.
Next take a quart jar and dilute 2 Tablespoons of salt into non-chlorinated water. Pour it over the beans to the top. Now remember that all your vegetables need to be totally covered by water - they like to float to the top. This is why I love the perfect pickler, it has a small overflow cup and then an airlock on top.
Some people I know just take a piece of cabbage and cover the top of the vegetables an weigh it down with a rock. Remember that during the fermentation process you will get gas buildup and need to "burp" your jar, with the system I use its not necessary.
I like to put a few tablespoons of the fermented liquid from an old batch to use as a starter so it ferments faster, some like to use some whey (the liquid from yogurt) as a starter or just just use salt and your first batch will take a day or so longer, that's it.
The beans took 3 days to ferment, my cucumbers 4-5. There are lots of recipes. Just get started today. You'll love it.