Smallholders are always looking for ways in which to preserve their produce. Lacto-fermentation is a particularly easy method.
The name is a bit misleading, as it has nothing to do with milk. Rather, lacto-fermentation is the process by which good bacteria break down the sugars in foods and form lactic acid.
Vegetables that you can ferment include cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, garlic, kohlrabi, peppers, radishes, French beans and turnips.
Lacto-fermented foods include kombucha, yogurt, sourdough bread, sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles.
We talk about “curing” meat or vegetables and this means that we are drawing the moisture out of the produce. There are two basic cures: a salt cure and a brine cure.
SA Smallholder has published a simple recipe for sauerkraut, which uses a salt cure. Here is another recipe using a salt cure.
Fermented Ginger Carrots
- 4 cups coarsely grated carrots
- 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger root
- 1 Tbsp sea salt
Wash your carrots and grate them in your food processor or on the large hole on your hand grater. Grate the ginger.
In a medium bowl, mix carrots, ginger and sea salt. Knead with clean hands.
Transfer the mixture to a large glass jar, pressing with a spoon or your fist to submerge the carrot mixture completely underneath the liquid. If necessary, add a bit of water to completely cover the mixture.
Seal and let sit at room temperature out of direct sunlight for five to ten days. Taste test and move the jar to cold storage (or your fridge) once the taste is to your liking.
Fermented Radish Slices Recipe
This fermented product uses a brine cure.
- 2 cups water
- 1.5 tablespoons sea salt
- Large bunch fresh radishes (about 700g), washed, trimmed, and cut into 1cm thick slices
- Sprigs of fresh dill and a couple of cloves of garlic (optional)
Bring water and salt to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Remove from heat, stir until salt dissolves, and let cool to room temperature.
Start placing the cut radishes into a large jar such as a Consol jar. When fermenting, it is best to try to fit as many radishes in the jar as possible. This will reduce the amount of brine needed, and the amount of air that can get trapped inside. Carefully layer them. Half way through, spread a layer of dill and sliced garlic, before layering the rest of the radish slices to the top of the jar. Spread more dill and garlic.
Cover with cooled brine, leaving a couple of cms headspace. Seal the jar.
Let the radishes sit on your counter for five to seven days, until the brine goes slightly cloudy and the radishes taste quite tart. When they’ve reached the level of tang you like, refrigerate.