|Fermenting Vegetables - yum|
Good questions. And it may take several blogs to get through all of this, so hang in there.
Fermenting is a process that has allowed people through the generations to preserve food without canning or freezing, when those options were not available.
But what we know now about fermented vegetables is how good they are for us. Fermenting causes certain chemical reactions producing lactic acid, and thus, the proliferation of lactobacilli. Just as we know there are certain bacteria that is beneficial to us in foods like yogurt, lactobacilli is important to us because it increases vitamin levels in these foods along with beneficial enzymes, antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic substances. Easily digestible, this process also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine. Certain types of fermented vegetables can also aid as a decongestant, diuretic, and good sources of vitamin C.
Fermented vegetables are not meant to be eaten as a side dish, but instead like a condiment. You can take up to 1/4 c of any vegetable and garnish your meat or fish with it, add a small amount to your salad or cottage cheese, or perhaps even a wrap sandwich. A look at most ethnic cuisines will show that almost all people of all countries eat some type of fermented foods every day. While in our Western culture earlier generations probably ate more fermented than we do, in the traditional American diet, we may eat relishes and sauerkrauts the most.
The basic recipe for fermented vegetables begins with vegetables --organic is the best, but barring that, make sure your veggies are clean and dry. There is probably no known vegetable you can't ferment, although typical ones are carrots, radishes, cabbages, cucumbers, beets, onions, turnips, and peppers. I personally like to mix them up and use cauliflower and carrot, or radish and cucumber. You cut up your veggies, mix with salt and other spices or herbs, and then pound to release the juices.
|I have a wooden pounder from Africa that I am using here.|
Line a strainer with a cloth and place over a bowl. Pour in a good, commercial yogurt (this would NOT be one of those pink, drinkable things) :-). What begins to drip is whey. The milk solids that are left is what we know as cream cheese. Continue to let this drip until it stops. Store the cream cheese for up to a month, and the whey in a jar for up to 6 months.
In Part 2, I will give you recipes for making fermented vegetables and fruits.