10 August 2009

Fermenting in the garden

The August garden is a delightful ramble of green. Hunting out the early fruits feels like a daily treasure hunt. Scraping a light layer of soil back, from underneath overgrown potato bushes, to uncover a few of the new crop. Parting the huge squash leaves to see how the winter squash are coming along.

Lifting cucumber vines, anticipating the first crunchy fruits.
Daily visiting the zucchini bushes, never disappointed with a harvest.

Peering into the thick of the massive tomato bushes for a spot of red.

Eyeing the peppers for any signs of color change.
Snapping off the first tight heads of broccoli.
Protecting the newly forming heads of cabbage from worm damage.

There is a variety and abundance on the table that we haven't experienced since last year's fall harvest. Each meal is a celebration of flavor and accomplishment. And for every meal laid on the table, ten are put up for winter. Besides the usual canning of pail after pail of green beans and shelled peas, I am experimenting with lacto-fermented vegetables. Why wait for the cabbages, when really, just about any vegetable can be fermented? Fermented vegetables make a nice addition to the winter fare, still crisp and full of flavor and vitamins and minerals that the pressure canned vegetables lack.

I'm trying peas first, using the recommended salt ratio of 1 pound for every 5 pounds of vegetables. But this really does taste a bit too salty to me, and the bubbling fermentation process has not started yet on the third day, so I'm going to add more peas. As you can read in the link above, the salt slows the fermentation process, and fermentation can be achieved with very little salt. But the less salt you use, the more risk of surface mold. The most important part of fermenting is to keep the vegetables well submerged below the brine. Some vegetables will produce their own brine, such as shredded and packed cabbage. The salted peas did produce some brine, but not enough to cover, so I added brine to the recommended proportion of 1/4 lb salt to a gallon of water.

The peas in their brine are covered with a clean towel, weighted with a plate and mason jar full of water. There's an inch of brine covering the peas.

I'll also be doing a dill and garlic cucumber crock, lacto-fermented pickles are crisp and wonderfully sour, compared to the limp boiled variety.


Pampered Mom said...

We *love* our fermented veggies around here. If you don't have a copy of Sandor Katz's "Wild Fermentation" yet I highly recommend it!!

Country Girl said...

I just made fermented dilly beans for the first time and they are SO good and it is only day 2. I followed One Busy Mom's instructions...so easy and there is much less salt. Her blog is on my side bar if you want to check it out.

Freija and Beringian Fritillary said...

Pampered Mom, I've come across that name a few times doing research on lacto-fermenting. I have gotten some great information from the "Wild Fermentation" website and Forum (on my sidebar under websites).

Country Girl, I've filled up my allowance of jars for canned green beans, and there's still plenty more left on the plants than we can eat, so I'll have to give that dilly bean recipe a try, sounds great.