Saturday, September 19, 2015

We LACTO Pickle!

Thanks to Tal Hadani-Pease for teaching us the WHEY of pickling with lactic acid bacteria!  These mighty microbes are found everywhere in our environment and when given the right conditions, they will convert the sugars in fruits and vegetables to acid. This creates the sour taste of sauerkraut, kimchee, beet kavaas and other pickled delights. Not only does this process make food taste good, and become easier to digest, but it also preserves the food by making it inhospitable to disease causing organisms.
For sauerkraut, we chopped cabbage and used hand-made pounding sticks to bruise the cabbage and get its juices flowing.
We added mineral-rich Celtic Sea Salt and packed it tightly into jars, layer by layer.

Tal recommended using our shoulder and leaning into the pounding stick in order to press out every last bit of air.
Lactic-acid bacteria thrive in an anaerobic environment, whereas mold and undesirable microbes will grow in the air pockets. We packed the jars full leaving as little head space as possible.
Tal showed us how to fold a cabbage leaf to cover the new-kraut and keep it submerged under the salty juice*. We screwed the lids on tight to transport them home. At home, we'll leave them in a bowl to catch the overflowing juices as the mix ferments and cover them with a cloth to keep light from destroying the vitamins. As it ferments it will off gas so we need to either loosen the lid once a day to "burp" it or leave it loosened full-time. It can be left on the counter for about a week until it tastes like kraut then refrigerated indefinitely where it will slowly continue to ripen and the flavors deepen.
Next we started brined carrot pickles with dill and/or garlic. Tal uses a 5% brine or 3TBSP salt to 1 quart of water for all brined pickles. We cut carrot sticks of the same length, packed them into jars, covered them with brine and will let the microbes do the rest.
When pickling cucumbers, Tal suggests discarding the blossom end, as it contains enzymes that digest the fruit and make it mushy... also adding grape and oak leaves will also help keep their crunch.
IF they do turn mushy, strain off the juice, blend til smooth, spread on dehydrator trays and run at less than 115 degrees until crunchy and blend again for a tasty seasoning salt.

Tal recommends following the Wild Fermentation Facebook Page and her Pinterest Feed: New Twist Tal Hadani: Feed Me - Ferment. Contact her through her website: to purchase hand-made pounders or to arrange a private or party lesson.

*Other ways to keep your ferment below the brine include a 4 oz jar set inside a wide-mouthed quart with the lid screwed down, a slab of onion or a bamboo skewer fit inside the mouth and spanning the jar's shoulders, or a flat round river stone.
For hot sauce: pack any mix of chopped hot and sweet peppers in a jar with 5% brine to cover, let set on counter for 3 months, then pulverize in a blender.

Any of these lacto-fermented pickles can be kick-started by adding microbe-rich whey from straining yogurt... We'll teach you how to make your own at our next Family Cow Workshop!

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