more on saltwater brine lacto-fermentationOctober 22, 2010
lacto-fermentation. aka alchemy.
for information about other methods of lacto-fermentation that don’t use a saltwater brine, see lime-juice lacto-fermentation.
HOW TO DO IT!
in open crocks
find a crock made of anything but metal (reacts to acids) or plastic (unless you want a probiotic bowl… just kidding. it’s alive!!) – i like glass, but glazed ceramic and that sort of stuff is fine.
fill the bowl part-way with your dream vegetables.
find a (again, not metal or plastic) plate that fits inside the bowl as closely to the edge as possible while still being able to squish the food down. the goal is to have the food ALWAYS under saltwater brine. the brine kills the nasty bacteria in the air that makes food rot. let the pickles live outside of the brine and they immediately begin rotting.
mold blooms will always grow on the surface of the water. spoon out the mold; you won’t be able to remove ALL of it, but try to grab the larger blooms. again, if the blooms aren’t touching the food, your food is safe.
weigh down the plate and sample the food after each delicious day to learn what your ideal fermentation time is. i find hot days pickle food about twice as fast. i have had sour pickles after only a few days in the summer, or up to a week and a half in the winter.
http://www.wildfermentation.com/resources.php?page=vegetables sandy’s amazing website WILD FERMENTATION articulates this a lot better than i can.
(please remember that anaerobic environments like jars are the perfect environment for botulism!)
find a glass jar with a rubber gasket that allows some gases to escape (or be good about burping the jars to prevent explosions.)
most people seem to agree that they need to be sterilized. i never do this and i haven’t been made sick by pickles yet, but i feel like i am asking for botulism.
mix up some non-chlorinated water (we let water sit out to off-gas) with a coarse, non-iodized salt like sea salt or pickling salt. you want it to be just a little saltier than your tears. if you’re not good about remembering to burp the jar, make it a little saltier – it’ll ferment more slowly.
pack vegetables in any combination you can imagine tightly but not too close to the top to avoid explosions. fill brine near the top but not too close. sweet foods, like apple-kraut, will need more headroom to compensate
place on a sunny sill and shake several times a day to ensure even pickling. let ‘em sit in the sun a few days, then bring them to a pantry and let them sit a while longer. sample often to find out what you like.
examples of normal activity include a fizziness you’ve only seen in seltzer, a cloudy brine (happens every time to me,) mushy pickles (it’ll happen,) and a mega-sourness. adding something with tannins (oak leaves, grape leaves, horseradish leaves) will keep ‘em crunchier.
some examples of successful ferments i’ve made to get you dreaming
- beet-horseradish (grated and used as a condiment)
- garlic-dill wax beans or green beans
- clove-cinnamon green tomatoes
- holy basil and hot jalapeno turnips
- giardinera with hot peppers, carrots, and onions
- black-mustard-seed and turmeric caulifower