These days we have fridges and freezers, fresh food available on every corner... so why bother to ferment veggies? The process of lacto-fermentation increases the vegetable's digestibility and vitamin levels plus they produce enzymes that aid the digestion of other foods, plus natural antibiotics and anti-carcinogenics. The process of fermentation produces lactic-acid which promotes healthy gut bacteria... that's vital to all-round health, to good digestion, to great immunity, to have flow and balance in general.
Fermented veg are easy to make, in fact it's best to make them yourself because shop bought ones don't necessarily have the same level of goodness. If you do a google search on fermented foods, you'll find loads of great information and recipes.
My very favourite, because I'm a lover of grated carrots, is Fermented Ginger Carrots from Sally Fallon's book, Nourishing Traditions. Nourishing Traditions is a fantastic book (and fantastically traditional, slash, hippy dippy but in a hearty wholesome way) if you're interested in traditional and whole foods.
So this is how to make my very favourite, Fermented Ginger Carrot
Add to a bowl...
4 cups of grated organic carrots (tightly packed)
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger,
2 tablespoons sea salt (the proper moist stuff that's not processed) (or Himalayan or Murray River salt)
4 tablespoons of Whey*
Pound for a few minutes with a wooden pounder to release the juices (I use the end of a strong glass jar).
Then place in a wide mouthed preserve or mason jar pressing the carrot mix down firmly so that the juices cover the carrots and be sure that there's at least 1" space above the carrots (the mix will expand as it ferments).
Pop the lid on and leave at room temperature for around 3 days, then pop the jar in the fridge, it will last for months and improve with age.
And to eat it... add a small amount (maybe a teaspoons or two) to each meal. it has a very strong taste... salty, sour, fermented and deliciously gingery, so not much is needed.
The easiest way (hee hee!) to make Whey* is to take a tub of good quality natural yoghurt (or you can use your home made yoghurt - I use home made goats yoghurt), a large cheesecloth and a wooden spoon, plus something to tie the cloth up with. The yoghurt needs to be strained and separated.
The way I do it is to line a colander or strainer with the cloth and sit it on top of a deep bowl, then pour the yoghurt in. Leave it for a few hours covered and at room temperature allowing the clearer and thinner whey liquid to seep through.
Then tie the cloth up (swag bag on a stick style) and around the wooden spoon which is sitting over a deep bowl or jug... the whey will continue to seep through the cloth into the jug or bowl and the curds (which can be used as cream cheese) will remain in the cloth.
Basically when the cloth stops dripping, the process is done. The cream cheese keeps for a month (although it becomes pretty strong over time, I tend to mix some chopped chives and chilli oil in and eat within a week) and the whey for 6 months and you'll have enough for a few batches of fermented veg.
Picture credits: The Elliot Homestead