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Lacto-Fermented Vegetables

History

Historically, all cultures in human civilization have relied on fermenting foods for preservation, vitamin/enzyme supplementation, and flavor enhancement. Early on our ancestors observed and fostered the presence of microorganisms that broke down certain foods that were rough or difficult to digest. They cultivated them, learned the particular needs for them to thrive, and made them part of the culinary and health-promoting culture.

Benefits

Fermenting generates a number of beneficial bacteria that enhance digestive processes and help the body absorb nutrients of other food we eat. While some bacteria actually stay in the body and reinforce our intestinal flora, most of them help predigest the food and later become part of it by dying in the acid environment of our stomachs. LFVs are often  given to people who have taken antibiotics to help repopulate the body of beneficial flora.

Care

As lacto fermentation is an anaerobic process, care must be taken to keep air out of the jar. To achieve this, after each time you enjoy some, press the vegetables down with a fork so it compresses to the bottom. If there is not enough brine, mix a little salt (preferably sea salt) with water and add until the vegetables are completely covered. Keep refrigerated.

LFV are alive and as such, it is an ongoing process, it will continue mature to and gain character as time passes. It is safe to keep LFV for long periods of time, and will last at the very least 2-3 months.  Over time they gain further character and complexity.   Occasionally other organisms may beat the lactobacilli and start to colonize the vegetables, most always they forming a thin white film on top…especially if they’re not well submerged. This white ‘scum’ is harmless and can easily be removed so you can keep enjoying your LFV. As always, use your common sense, and in the unlikely case that the veggies smell or taste completely off, throw them out.

 Use

LFV are a raw life food that, in order to preserve its life and health enhancing qualities, should be consumed uncooked. Heating live food beyond the temperature at which it is too hot to touch, effectively kills all beneficial organism and enzymes.

Try adding LFV to sandwiches, salads, warm soup, spreads and relishes. You can also enjoy it as a side dish to complement most any dish.  The brine is a very flavorful drink that can be drank as is, as a powerful tonic and digestive, or combined with salad dressings, warm soups and spreads.

 

Resources

The Permaculture Book of Ferment and Human Nutrition; Mollison, Bill; Tagari Press

Nourishing Traditions; Fallon, Sally; New Trends

Wild Fermentation; Katz, Sandor Ellix; Chelsea Green

http://www.sauerkrautrecipes.com/

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