Lacto-fermentation is an excellent way to preserve vegetables with the bonus of enhanced flavour and beneficial, live microbes. Any vegetable can be lacto-fermented. The beauty of lacto-fermentation is that the end product is always a different or enhanced version of what you started with. Be adventurous and you might just discover the specific flavour that was missing from your last meal. Remember that the best results can only come from experimenting.
HOW DOES LACTO-FERMENTATION PRESERVE THE VEGETABLES?
As in the preparation of SAUERKRAUT, salt is used as a preservative in vegetable lacto-fermentation, working alongside the good bacteria present on the food being preserved. Where sauerkraut uses a “dry brine”, vegetable lacto-fermentation uses a “wet brine”. The ratio of salt to water is critical in maintaining an adequate pH level to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria (i.e Lactobacillus) and simultaneously create an inhospitable environment against harmful bacteria and pathogens. A correct brine also helps the vegetables retain their texture and colour. A 2% brine is typically used for vegetables, with the exception of cucumbers and peppers which require a higher level of salinity as they are more susceptible to mould.
LACTO-FERMENTED DILL CARROTS
Let’s get started! A favourite vegetable to culture in our house is the carrot. I ate tons of carrots as a child, and my daughters can go through a bag at a time. Fermented dill carrots are even better; salty, crunchy, a carrot with pizzazz! They are my go-to snack when I can’t decide what I’m craving and one will generally do the trick.
You can use any type of carrot, except for bagged “baby ” carrots as they are processed with chlorine which might kill off the good lactobacillus bacteria required for fermentation. I like to use Nante carrots, harvested at the end of the summer in Eastern Canada. They are beautiful, tasty, and come in a variety of colours. You can use regular carrots from your local store, but make sure to cut them into thick sticks to help maintain their crunch. Another way to avoid limp carrots is to add tannins to the brine. Tannins are found in a variety of sources: grape leaves, tea, but the most accessible are bay leaves (dried or fresh).
- 2 lbs (900 g) carrots (trimmed and washed)
- fresh dill (washed and dried)
- 3 peeled garlic cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 2% brine ( 4 cups distilled water + 4 tsp salt (non-iodized, pure))
- 1 quart (950 ml ) fermentation container (sterilized)
Fermenting Time: 2 weeks to 1 month
1.Layer the carrots upright in the jar and layer with dill, garlic and bay leaves. Make sure to pack the carrots tightly.
2. Add brine leaving a 1/2″ space from the top of the jar (or less if using a fermentation weight)
3. Make sure the vegetables are submerged under the brine (Use a fermentation weight, if necessary) and lid the container
4.Place out of direct sunlight and let ferment for at least 2 weeks.
5.Sample after 2 weeks. If you are happy with the taste, put the carrots in the fridge to slow further fermentation. They will keep for months. Enjoy!