Monday, August 1, 2011

Happy August!

Welcome to my month of "Lacto-fermented" recipes.  We have been doing really well at the farmer's market in the next town over and I've been directing folks to our new website (..that I still need to get built...yikes!) and there we are going to also be posting the recipes, so check it out (in a few days-sheepish grin).  Hopefully, our new customers will come over and become new readers of the blog as well.

Our first recipe is going to be the basic pickle with the lacto-ferment process.

Lacto-fermentation is how our grandparents kept food.  It was put in a salt brine and then kept in the Cold Cellar, where it never got really, really cold, or very warm.  Lacto-fermented food does best stored at 50* or less. So if you have room in your refrigerator, that's perfect for storage.

What you will need:

Wide-mouth Ball (Kerr) Jar
Lacto-Ferment Trap Lid (available at the Sunbury farmer's market or online on our site)
Zipper bag-sandwich sized
Measuring Cups & Spoons

Filtered Water
Pickling Salt
Pickling Cucumbers (6-7 pickling or 20-30 small gherkins)
3-6 cloves of garlic

I didn't take pictures of all the steps(...because I am lame and forgot! You'll have to use your imagination on those)

First you are going to make your brining solution.  We use a "6%" solution which is 8 cups of filtered water to 6 tablespoons of pickling salt.  We have recently switched over to Himilayan Pink Salt as it is reported that it contains all 84 minerals that the body needs.  For this first recipe, however, I just used regular canning/pickling salt that is readily available at the store.  You can use less salt, but don't go less than about 2 Tbsp for 8 cups of water. 

Also in most of the lacto-ferment recipes, it calls for whey.  You can get whey from the top of your yogurt cut (plain, please) or in our case, I use kefir whey.  When I am making the kefir, it naturally separates (isn't that convienent).  The whey is used as a bit of a starter of the probiotic bacteria.  If you don't have whey...don't worry!  You can just add another tablespoon of salt to the brine.

Now, normally, you will have a LOT more cucumber slices than I do.  We usually do quart sized jars.  Unfortunately, the cucumbers I got from the farmer's market had already started to 'turn' and were getting a bit on the slimy side.  You want to use the freshest and best produce you can.  So, I have a pathetic amount of slices and used a pint jar instead.

Put your cucumbers, 2 Tbsp whey, garlic (I smash and dice one clove and then leave the others peeled but whole.), dill (about 2 Tablespoons fresh, 2 teaspoons dried--at this point the measuring spoons are mostly a decoration...use the amounts that you like) into your clean jar.  You will fill the jar to about the "shoulder", or about an inch from the top.  At this point you can add a grape leaf (wild is fine) or an oak leaf to help keep the pickles crisp...or you can use alum or "pickle crisp".

Pour your brine to cover your cucumbers.  They will float a bit, so use your sandwich bag and put some brine in it to sink the pickles down.  Some people will use marbles in a bag instead.  Carefully close the bag so it doesn't have air in it.

Now, you will add your lid with the airlock fermentation trap on top.  Screw on the lid so it is snug and then put the airlock firmly into the grommet.  It is not going to go down very far...this is correct!

Add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of filtered water into the airlock (there is a faint line that you fill to)

Finally you will want to keep it out of UV light.  The UV will kill the fermentation process.  So put it into a dark cabinet or cover the jar with a dishcloth.

In just about 24 hour you will start to see bubbles in your brine.  This will go on for about 3 days.  When you tap on the side and  you don't see bubbles, it is ready to get recapped and put into your cold storage.  You can pour your pickles into another jar with a lid or just replace your fermentation lid with a regular wide-mouth lid (1 or 2 piece is fine).

Your pickles will get stronger over time and a bit "fizzy-ish" but not terribly so.  Your nose knows.  If it smells like something you wouldn't want to eat...feed it to the chickens! (Or the dog or the trash). 

Lacto-fermentation generates the good bacteria that your 'gut' needs to be healthy.  It's the same as eating yogurt or "Activia"tm.  At first, you may experience a bit of digestional upset.  Pickles are a condiment and not a "main dish"  (I am not a doctor NOR do I play one on TV....)  Over time, though, your body will not only adjust, but be healthier for it!  (And so will your chickens and dogs!)

Tune in tomorrow for.....lacto-fermented KETCHUP!  Be sure to tell me in the comments what you would like to see me make...and send your friends over to read too!!


Niki said...

can't wait for those recipes.
BTW - i really like your new profile picture

Anonymous said...

THESE LOOK GREAT! Y'all are so smarticles ;-P I'd like to try them thar yummies....(forgive the 'english' - i just don't know where it all comes from sometimes...but u understand...)

Anonymous said...

oh! that was me - Sheryl