Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

Preserving Food: Lactic Fermentation

Finished jars now they only need to ferment for 5 to 7 days.

Several months ago, I stumbled across lactic fermenting. Honestly, I had no idea what that was. I had been planning on canning this fall. I knew about freezing and drying food but other traditional methods of food preservation I really never thought about. My Aunt Sue kept telling me about fermenting and how wonderful it was. I should tell you that my family, especially my Aunt Sue, has long been followers of healthy "alternatives". Vitamins, avoiding white sugar, probiotics, filtered water via osmosis, mineral make up, sometimes trendy diets, etc. Some of it has gone by the wayside but most of it is a great way to live a healthier life.

Regardless I began to research fermenting and discovered that it is an amazing way to add probiotics, good bacteria, to your diet (without spending tons of money on a supplement). I was sold. I won't bother now discussing in depth why I need large quantities of probiotics but if you are a suffer of candida like I am (three strains of the stuff live in my unhealthy gut) you need LOTS of good probiotics to fix yourself. I simply don't have the money for the store bought fixes, supplements, doctors (alternative or otherwise), etc.

Once I discovered fermenting it was like my eyes were open for the first time and I saw it everywhere. More than likely you know someone who ferments food, you ferment food, you have read about fermenting food, you buy fermented foods, and on and on. I am not on the cutting edge here but if you are ready to take the plunge here is how...

My Aunt Sue gathered two of her sisters (my mother & my Aunt Kathy) myself and my baby (baby's go everywhere mom goes) for a "CV Party" (Cultured Vegetable Party). We were all new at this and it made for a fun afternoon.

The sisters! Sue, Kathy, and Mary (my mom).

You need jars. These lovely jars are from Weck and they are completely beautiful. You don't need these pretty jars though. All you need is a canning jar. The problem is pressure can build up in the jar and potentially explode it, so if you use a canning jar don't pack it insanely full and occasionally release the pressure. You will find tutorials for using your average canning jar all over the internet. I want to ferment in quantity so I may in the future invest in an amazing stoneware fermenting crock but in the meantime I will consider investing these airlock lids that fit any wide mouth canning jar.

Weck jars and culture starters.

You need a recipe but once you get the hang of it fermenting is like cooking. You can make up your own. Most often cultured vegetables are a combination of cabbage and other vegetables and you pack them into a jar. You leave them at room temperature (72 degrees Fahrenheit) for three days or longer. Winter six or seven and summer as little as three or four. During the winter you can place the jars in a warmer place, inside a cooler chest (minus the ice), or wrap them in towels to keep things warm and fermenting. Once finished you place the jar in the refrigerator or some place cool to stop the fermenting. Properly fermented veggies can be stored for quite some time. Typically eight months and up. 

The recipe we used:
3 heads green cabbage, shredded in a food processor (or shredded by hand)
1 bunch kale, chopped by hand
1 Tbsp. dill seeds
We used a combination of red and green cabbage. 
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Remove several cups of this mixture and put into a blender. Add enough filtered water (don't have filtered water or water without chlorine so I boil my water and let it cool to room temp) to make a "brine" the consistency of a thick juice. Add blended brine back into bowl with all ingredients. Pack mixture down into your jars using your fist or potato masher. Leave about 2 inches of room at the top for veggies to expand. Roll up several cabbage leaves into a tight "log" and place thme on top to fill the remaining 2 inches of space. Clamp jar closed (or screw on lid). Leave at room temperature for at least 3 days to a week and then refrigerate to slow down the fermentation (it never completely stops but will continue to age... like wine).  
To use a culture starter:
If you aren't fermenting with salt or whey you need a culture starter for a better culture. Culture starters can be purchased online or at health food stores. Dissolve one or two packages of starter culture in 1 1/2 cup warm (90 degree) water. Add approximately 1 tsp. of some form of sugar to feed the starter (Rapadura, Sucanat, honey, Agave, EcoBLOOM, or other). Let starter/sugar mixture sit for about 20 minutes or longer while the L. Plantarum and other bacteria wake up and begin enjoying the sugar. Add this starter culture to the brine mixture.

Culture starter in water with EcoBLOOM.
All ingredients in one pot.


Brine and ingredients.

Filling the jars and packing them down.

Cabbage roll.

Finished jars just need to ferment now.

Visit Two Blue Houses for more posts related to the farm, home, DIY, and using what you got.

Views: 1920

Comment by Harriet Fasenfest on May 9, 2011 at 9:43am

Pat, I'm rooting for the thread on making gun powder you colonial revolutionary you.  And when we go back to those days you can help me find the one smokehouse in old Virgininny that used nitrites.  Saltpeter - well, I think you might be on to something there and if you don't finish that darn deck soon I think you might be having to eat some yourself cause, well, cause you know how that pavlovian messaging works - don't you?


But mildly offensive and invasive comments aside, I love the idea of fermenting with just salt cause I don't have to buy a darn thing besides salt to do it.  I love curing with it too for the same reason.  And salt, as we all know, was the source a great wars.  Even a book about it - Salt Wars - don't you know.  And then there's  Ghandi's peasant civil disobedience movement when they defied the ruling classes by collected their own salt.  So pretty important stuff and I have friends that have gone to the coast to do the same but I haven't.


Some say random minerals in your ferments is good and others not.  I'm not sure what sandor says on the matter.  I generally stick with pure sea salt, no trace minerals in the mix - not even kosher salt cause sometimes the texture looks weird to me - sort of calcified.  I buy my large grain sea salt in bulk at the co-op. I say buggers to the boxes that say "canning or pickling salt".   Just don't get a salt that is iodized.  

And pat, next time I am visiting my mom in FL I am coming up your way to ride in one of the crazy boats and to raid your pantry.  I am nearly flummoxed imagining all that is in there.  

Comment by Pat Johnson on May 9, 2011 at 10:09am

Crazy boats!!!! I'm hurt and see no need to belittle my boat buiding skills on this site!

Comment by Harriet Fasenfest on May 9, 2011 at 10:15am
What site could I do that on?  And besides, I use crazy in the most beatnikky way possible.  You know......dig those CRAZY boats man.
Comment by Pat Johnson on May 9, 2011 at 2:38pm

Cornelia, Harriet's picking on me!

Seriously, I'm sitting here at the new Starbucks (MacDonald's with a 54 cent senior coffee & free WIFI) taking a break and re-reading some of  "The Joy of Pickling" by Linda Ziedrich. Harriet and I are both in agreement on Linda's book as one of the best resourses when it comes to pickling. If you are going to buy one book on pickling, its the one! I keep mine at the public librairy;-) Anyway, I figured I'd better polish up my picklng knowledge if I'm gonna post on this discussion.

 I spent some time this morning canning boneless-skinless-chicken in quart jars. I'm doing a 4 day/3 night small boat trip later this week where we'll be camping along the way on the beaches. I am helping out on two of the evening meals and my canning skills will make that much eaisier. One night I will have home-made sausages with canned home-made "Sauerkraut"  I made earlier this month and canned Baked Beans (the thick ones like in a cassarole) . I will cook the sausages the day before I leave on the smoker and put them in the cooler and simply warm them up in the solar oven on the beach (Forecast is for sunny weather). Day two is Chicken-Salad sandwiches made with the canned chicken, canned relish and canned pickled eggs. I wanna show these guys & gals that you don't have to eat "Ramon Noodles" just cause you're camping.

I'm planning to try a Indian-lemon-pickle in the near future and my peppers are going to be ready soon and I'm going to ferment a bunch of them this year (I posted the recepe I plan to use in an earlier post today (see below).

Comment by Harriet Fasenfest on May 9, 2011 at 3:26pm

I repeat.  Pat, you are my leader.  I cannot imagine taking (or making) all that stuff but I know it will be appreciated by all your fellow boat mates.  

Blessed be the dude who can hook all this stuff up.  Hence forth to be known as - The Canning Dude. 

I think Linda has a recipe for salt cured lemons in that book does she not?  Well, she lives not too far from me.  Writes for culinate (like me) is up on facebook (like big mouth me) and has a blog that you can access if you want to ask her about recipes.  But you are ambitious as all get out so I'm sure you'll have it hooked up by the end of the day.

Comment by Pat Johnson on May 10, 2011 at 9:24am

Lauren, it's been over a week since you posted the discussion. Have you tasted the femented cabbage that looked so wonderful in those jars yet?  I'm waiting to hear how it all turned out. Last time I made Sauerkraut I had enough room for one more head of cabbage in my fermenter but when I went to buy another head they didn't have any so I got a large bag of slaw instead. The slaw was just shredded cabbage, red cabbage and carrots so no big deal and in it when. The red cabbage and carrot colors looked great but soon bled out into the rest leaving just a little color to show they had been included. Take a picture of your finished kraut so we can see how the red cabbage color was affected.

I assume the rolled up cabbage on the top was used to hold the rest under the brine. Usually folks advise a weight to hold it under so you can skim the scum/mold off the top daily if needed. Did you notice scum/mold and did you do anything or simply remove the rolled up cabbage and then skim it? I usually am unable to get all the scum skimmed and it doesn't hurt anything. I would think you could just remove the rolled up cabbage leaves, skim the top of the liquid, rince off the cabbage leaves and replace them. ANyway, I'm interested in hearing what you did and how it worked.

Comment by Cornelia on May 10, 2011 at 10:20am
Oh, you crazy kids. I turn my head for a minute and you go and get all luvvy with each other. Makes me smile, indeed. Carry on.
Comment by Harriet Fasenfest on May 10, 2011 at 10:24am
Cornelia, so clear why you are an administrator of this site and I am some grumbly old grumble head hiding out in my backyard.  Good that everyone knows their strengths.  If Home Grown ever needs a bouncer give me a call.
Comment by Lauren Klouda on May 10, 2011 at 11:01am

Sorry all... got lost in family stuff and sunshine. My 16 soon to be 17 year old stepson has been having a "racing" heart and he had the school nurse take his blood pressure. She said it was WAY to high... we took him to the doctor for a bunch of tests. Nope it was fine. Stress over grades. Geeze. Then Ohio finally stopped having a monsoon and we frantically cut the grass (most of it), finished the second chicken coop (the old one will become a rabbit shed), and I tried weeding my raised beds... a month of rain and you wouldn't believe the weeds! I really like that recipe for pickled Jalapenos. Once I have some from my garden this year I will try that. 


And Pat - I am kicking myself for not taking a picture of the finished. I ATE IT ALL. I only had two of the jars of course. It was yummy. No mold to skim. I threw out the cabbage leaves rolled on top. It was just to keep the veggies packed down. I actually enjoyed it with a small amount of salt (because I am a salt freak and the recipe didn't have salt) as a side dish to my lunches and dinners. I promise next time to take pictures. The red cabbage did turn everything a slight pink... and I didn't really enjoy the kale. I might try another leaf veggie next time. Everything was still pretty crisp which I also enjoyed. I like veggies not to soft if I am cooking them. 


Ok. I am off to do more weeding after the baby goes down for a nap! Hope everyone's gardens are doing well. :)

Comment by Pat Johnson on May 16, 2011 at 2:42pm

OK, Lets get back to this Lacto Fermenting stuff. Today I am starting a fermented pepper experiment. Simple enough, just add 3 tablespoons of canning salt to 1 quart of water, devide between 2 quart jars and add peppers, some onion and garlic and then ferment for 1 week. I started with large Jalapenos and removed the seeds & membrane (I want to see what the fermented taste is like and I already know what hot tastes like). I sliced them longways and stuffed them into the jar like sardines, added a couple slices of onion, 4 teaspoons of garlic and the salted water. The peppers were wedged in well enough that they stayed beneath the surface so no weight was needed. I put a paper towel across the top and ruberbanded it so it wouldn't droop into the liquid. In a week I'll let you know how things came out!


You need to be a member of HOMEGROWN to add comments!




Join us on:


  • Add Videos
  • View All


  • Add Photos
  • View All

© 2021   Created by HOMEGROWN.org.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

Community Philosphy Blog and Library