Alternative to canning: how to ferment vegetables at home
Did you know that the process of fermenting vegetables, fruits and berries not only preserves their nutritional value, but also increases it significantly? In addition, fermentation is considered one of the easiest ways to preserve crops. And, by the way, less burdensome than the same pasteurization of cans.
It is one of the oldest types of cooking used throughout the world. After all, in the old days, not everyone had cellars. There was no mention of refrigerators at all. And somehow it was necessary to prepare the harvest for the winter! How to properly ferment vegetables and fruits at home and what are their benefits for the human body, explains Editorial “With Taste”.
What is fermentation
What do you think pickles, sauerkraut, pickled apples, wine, vinegar, kefir, tea and cheese have in common? That’s right, all these products are obtained using a simple fermentation method. Our ancestors most likely had no idea about the beneficial bacteria living in such healthy foods. The fermentation process was used solely to preserve food until the next harvest.
Fermentation is the processing of fresh food various types of yeast and bacteria. In simple words, this is fermentation (the breakdown of organic substances due to lack of oxygen). The resulting bacteria convert the starch sugar from the produce into lactic acid. And it, in turn, not only protects food from spoilage, but is also very useful for the coordinated functioning of the gastrointestinal tract.
Almost everything can be fermented: vegetables, fruits, meat, milk, fish, berries and even drinks. And while sauerkraut and pickled apples won’t surprise anyone in our area, easy-to-digest fermented squash, pumpkin, onions and garlic, beets and leafy greens have not yet become widespread.
How to properly ferment vegetables and fruits
To start the fermentation process correctly, you need the most ordinary things – water, sugar, salt, pressure, time and heat. The best utensils for fermentation are: these are wooden barrels. But in modern realities, you can get by with enameled or glass containers. As a pressure for jars, use tightly rolled horseradish leaves or plastic lids folded in half.
In most cases, water for fermentation is boiled and cooled. For young cucumbers, it is better to take fresh spring or well water. As for salt, for good fermentation take large, stone salt. Marine or iodized (despite their usefulness) will most likely soften the product being manufactured. The vegetables themselves must be of impeccable quality – no dents, stains or damage. Is it worth talking about rot? Cleanliness is the key to your culinary success.
To start the fermentation process, you need to create a salty environment without air. Any oppression copes wonderfully with the last condition. As for salt, it should be from 1.5 to 3% of the total weight of the fermented product. It is in this concentration that salt blocks the development of harmful microorganisms without interfering with the active reproduction of beneficial bacteria. Its main task is to release liquid and penetrate into the product itself.
It is extremely important to monitor a stable temperature in the room. In general, fermentation works at any temperature up to + 40 degrees. The higher it is, the faster your products will ferment. At the same time, most of the beneficial bacteria will die.
What are the benefits of fermented foods?
Regular consumption of fermented products has many benefits: from improving metabolism to reducing the risk of cancer. Such food greatly improves digestion, strengthens bone tissue, restores intestinal microflora, accelerates all metabolic processes in the body, and also reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Fermented foods suitable even for diabetics. Under the influence of lactic acid bacteria, carbohydrates literally “dissolve” during the fermentation process. As a result, the load on the liver and pancreas is reduced significantly. Studies have shown that fermented foods gradually reduce high blood pressure to normal levels. And this, in turn, is a good prevention of complications such as stroke or myocardial infarction.
Fermented foods contain a huge amount of trace elements, amino acids, vitamins and other important bioactive compounds. For example, there is almost 20 times more easily digestible vitamin C in sauerkraut than in fresh cabbage. Even a small portion of this product will enrich your body important vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, minerals and digestive enzymes. It has been proven that such food is much easier to digest by the human body than food freshly picked from the garden. It’s no secret that fermented foods also contain probiotics—bacteria that are beneficial for the intestinal microflora, replenishing the lack of beneficial bacterial flora in the body.
Fermented products are good both on their own and as ingredients in recipes for various salads, borscht, vinaigrettes, cabbage rolls and side dishes. So, from a medical point of view, fermentation is the most correct way to process food. It improves our health, which is confirmed by numerous studies. Such live food is an excellent prevention of various kinds of diseases. It prolongs youth and improves quality of life.
From a culinary point of view, lactic acid fermentation products acquire a unique aroma, pleasant sourness and the so-called fifth umami taste, which is so revered in the East. Interesting experiments for you, friends. And here when and how to ferment cabbagecan be found here.