Fermentation is nature’s original food preservation technique. Sometime in our past, somebody added something to a liquid medium, and noticed a few days later that the food inside was still okay. They didn’t know why, couldn’t understand it.
They also noticed the food inside was more than okay. Things like honey became mead, things like grains became beers, and things like milk became yogurt.
Somebody at some point noticed that some kind of magic happens to certain foods under the right time, and temperature, and other conditions, and they’re edible long after they normally would be. That’s the magic of fermentation, it’s built right into nature.
The Process of Fermentation
Fermentation generally follows a simple process where a food’s pH is lower by the action of bacteria and other microorganisms, and these good microorganisms, bacteria, funguses, yeasts, molds, then make the food safe from invasions by unsafe microorganisms; dangerous bacteria, yeast, molds, and fungi.
Fermentation is a natural process where a type of bacteria, usually known as lacto bacteria, are kind of the big genus of bacteria that do the heavy lifting in this process. They consume things in the fermenting vessel, and as they consume them, they naturally secrete acids and other chemicals that lower the pH while they increase and multiply their numbers.
The stones that weigh down the vegetables and keep them submerged under the brining liquid, and that’s what the salt plus water, that’s a brine, so this salt plus water mixture, this brining liquid that we ferment inside of it that creates this perfect environment for fermentation to take place is interrupted by air exchange.
|The more air exchange you have, the more likely your ferment will have issues with unwanted microorganisms finding a foothold before the pH is dropped low enough to make it so that they can’t find a good place to take up residence and ruin your ferment.|
Reasons to opt Fermentation
- Fermentation is one of the few food preservation techniques that increases the nutritional value of food.
- It is a very low energy, low impact operation.
- Fermentation just doesn’t have a lot of these up-front costs and a lot of these challenges that other methods have.
Examples of fermented Food
Some best examples of fermented food include Zucchinis, and Pickles, Sauerkraut, Cheese and Yogurt.
Requirements for fermentation
In order to ferment you really only need four things to get started:
- Source of good, clean, non-chlorinated water.
- A good quality salt
- Gizmos and gadgets
- Product for fermentation
Ball mason jars
Ball mason jars is a beautiful, all glass jar, but it has a metal lid and metal rim that attaches to the jar. The problem with those we found is when you’re fermenting with those, especially if you’re fermenting something and then you’re going to try storing it for an extended period of time. Tattler lids are BPA free and they’re all plastic. They come with a silicon seal ring, so there’s no metal involved anymore. Moving a step up from doing Ball mason jars with Tattler lids is a good choice for Fermentation.
Weck jars is a glass jar, beautiful glass lid, and they have this little metal sealing clips, and again, a silicon ring to make the one-way airlock as you’re heat processing them if you’re using them on the canning side of the equation. You’ll just absolutely love the results you’ve gotten out of the Weck jars.
Masontops make a specialized glass stone kit for use with weighting fermenting involved jars, so we’re going to be trying those out in problem this fall.
What should you Ferment in the Initial times?
It’s a great time of year, because in most of the country if you have garlic or have access to garlic, scapes are going to be coming into season, and they’re the stem that grows out of the center of certain garlic varieties, where you get that flower from. The scapes are delicious. They can go in your fridge, and they will last.
In our experience, fermented garlic scapes will last two, three years in the refrigerator, or if you have a really, really cold root cellar, an area where you can keep them that’s going to hover down around 38 degrees, 40 degrees. They have a really great shelf life, and they’re just fantastically delicious and a wonderful substitute for garlic, and all sorts of cooking in other applications.
Ginger carrots are basically good quality carrots, once again, ran through a food processor. You also add in some good quality ginger. There’s a few other things you can add or not add, and then you add the brining liquid. They make this just really delicious, very easy to make fermented carrot item. So that’s another one we do.
We skip the fish sauce, we just haven’t been able to go that far quite yet, and so we do a traditional fermented ketchup, sans the fish sauce.
Cucumbers pickles is another really easy, doesn’t require a lot of effort, and we found to be pretty bomb proof ferment to start with in terms of your fermenting options.
Now you’re ready to use nature’s original preservation techniques for your benefit