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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: 2025

Comment by Pat Johnson on May 2, 2011 at 3:55pm
Comment by Pat Johnson on May 2, 2011 at 4:09pm

Today I canned 17 pints of sauerkraut and 5lbs of low-sugar strawberry preserves. I don't have airconditioning where I preserve my stuff so this will be the end of the season for fermenting here in Florida. I already made a bunch of different sausages so I'm ready for the BBQ season with grilled sausages and kraut on a bun! Although the Strawberry presearves look like the go pretty well with the kraut in the picture I think I'll use them for breakfast.

BTW my glass crock will easily hold 5 heads of cabbage and that's about as big as I feel like I would need for just Debbie (wife) and me.

Comment by Pat Johnson on May 2, 2011 at 4:16pm
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I use a glass crock that I've had for a while and can't remember where I got it from (see picture). I use the simple 1.5TBS of salt per 5lbs of cabbage to make great sauerkraut. I also make Spicy Kimche using Napa Cabbage. My friend has recently turned me on to using whey tostart the fermentation instead of salt. I'm pretty good at the salt method used with sauerkraut and other vegies like in your pictures. My firend makes yogurt and then hangs the yogurt in a cheese cloth bag and catches the whey as it drips off. They she simply adds the whey to the veggies and the fermentation works just like the salt method.
Comment by Lauren Klouda on May 2, 2011 at 4:38pm

Pat! You are amazing! I love your glass crock. I confess this garage sale season I will be looking for one just like that. I am eager to try the salt and whey method. I feel that as a reliable method of food preserving I need to be able to ferment WITHOUT store bought help. You are definitely an inspiration to me and strawberry preserves for breakfast sounds delicious. 


I also make yogurt cheese so I was thinking about using all that good whey. I will definitely try it just like your friend does. Thanks for the comments and pictures!

Comment by Pat Johnson on May 2, 2011 at 4:41pm

 A while back I posted the directions for making a simple sauerkraut on the Recipe Sharing page of homegrown. 

 I sure like the way you did your decription (with wonderful pictures) on the blog.  I have saved the blog site to my favorites and will be watching you girlsat Two Blue Houses for more great info & pics.

Comment by Shellie A. Gades on May 4, 2011 at 3:20pm
These are beautiful to look at as well. I wonder if you could use gallon jars as well?
Comment by Aliza Ess on May 4, 2011 at 4:56pm
Ooh those crocks are beautiful! Yup, there are some days when I feel like my belly is just craving that fermentation. I was reading a Korean cookbook earlier and now this is giving me an even more massive kimchi craving!  Anyone else a fan of Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz? His book is a great resource. The only problem I've had with canning saurkraut so far is that somehow the taste even gets into the glass I feel like and I had a small batch of applesauce that was saurkraut-y tasting.
Comment by Lauren Klouda on May 4, 2011 at 6:02pm

Shellie - They are beautiful but pricey in my opinion. The ones I took home were a gift from my Aunt. I promised to grow her some veggies to ferment in exchange. You should look at Pat Johnson's set up on his saurkraut recipe. He plans on using a large food grade bucket for saurkraut in the future.


Aliza - I just found out about Wild Fermentation from a read of my blog. I requested it at my library and I can't wait. And it is funny how taste stays. I canned some applesauce and then stored beans in the same jars after the sauce was eaten and jars cleaned... same affect. :) 

Comment by Shellie A. Gades on May 4, 2011 at 6:08pm
Lauren: Not to sound stupid or anything, but where does this beautiful fermented veggie mix go after the fermenting process?
Comment by Lauren Klouda on May 4, 2011 at 9:53pm
That isn't stupid! I fermented this batch for 7 days. Afterwards it sort of shrank a bit and the colors ran. I then refrigerated them to slow down the fermenting (which never really stops). They were weren't mushy but a bit softer than eating the veggie raw. I am a fan of salt so I would sprinkle a little sea salt on them. Only start with about 1/4 cup at a time when eating them. You can add to a salad or use as a side dish... or whatever. I would use as a side dish to whatever I was eating and my 8 month old baby at the time didn't seem to mind the fermented juice. I would say it can be an "acquired" taste but I craved them after about two days... must be good for you!


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