September 30, 2008

Cultured Vegetables

In the olden days, when there wasn't mason jars and canners or refrigerators, people had to find a way to preserve food. Probably what they didn't realize completely, is that the method they used, which was fermentation, was very life giving. Raw veggies and fruits contain tons of natural good bacteria, or probiotics. (pro- good, biotic-life) They were literally eating living foods!

Since the industrialization of America, we have abandoned these practices and it's cost us in our health. When the vegetables are fermented, the lactobacilli break down the veggies and make them more digestible and the nutrients are more available to the body.

Ok, so I have never like sauerkraut- ever. I'm not a fan of sour tasting foods, however, I wanted to give it a try because of the health giving properties of natural, homemade fermented vegetables. I've made 4 batches of different fermented vegetables, and they came out ok except for one. I didn't put enough liquid in it and it went bad. So I was looking for some new recipes on the internet and came across the one I posted on Friday. So here is my set up:

So I had carrots, red and green cabbage, onions, garlic and fresh herbs that you can't see. Notice the coffee...

So I started off with the food processor. It has a chip on the lid that's been getting bigger, and it finally just died during this process. So, guess what I had to do? Use a knife and chop it all by hand.

Finally! My arm was sore for two days. The bowl on the left is for the cultured veggies and the one on the right is for coleslaw. Now time to do onions and garlic.

I whack the garlic cloves good with the side of the knife, then peel the skin off and chop it. Next I took out a few cups of the veggies and put it in a large measuring cup with distilled water. I am going to blend this up and add the whey from some kefir as my 'brine' for the veggies. I had to get a stock pot out to mix all the vegetables and herbs together because my bowl wasn't big enough.

Remember these are 'marinara' veggies, so I added fresh basil and dried Italian seasoning/herb de Provence. Mixing it up with my hands...

Ready to blend it up. Notice the mess on my counter top :) I didn't take pictures of how I separated the whey from the kefir. Basically you get a mesh strainer, set it over a bowl, lay a piece of thin tea towel or cheesecloth and pour in the kefir or yogurt. Let it sit several hours till you have a few T of clear whey in the bottom of the bowl.

Then you pack the veggies in the jars. I forgot to sterilize everything, but it's not really necessary. When the jar got half way full I got a wooden spoon and pounded it down until the veggies were packed tight, then I poured in the liquid.

Then I took one of the outer leaves of the cabbage and washed it, then I rolled it and put on top of the veggies to help them stay submerged in the liquid.
Then I put the lids on tight and put them in a dark place. I moved them to the pantry after taking this picture.

Here is what they looked like after three days of fermenting.

The recipe said to let them go for 7 days, but Nourishing Traditions always said 2-4 days, so I did 3.5 days :) I put them in the fridge last night and will taste them in a bit. I will let you know how they are!

I have now tasted the veggies. They are very, er, sharp tasting if that makes sense. The flavors have not fully developed and I probably should have let them sit longer. Since they're in the fridge, I'm not sure if I should just leave them or take them out. I will probably just leave them there for several weeks and taste them again. They'll last many months.

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