Let me first start by saying I am no expert in lacto-fermentation,
but when has that ever stopped me!!?? Here we go!
Lacto-fermentation or culturing, is the preservation of foods using lactic acid. Lactic acid is produced as a by-product of the growth of good bacterias present in food. The growth in acidity, makes it difficult for bad bacteria to survive and so preserves the food. Lactic acid and the good bacterias are encouraged by the addition of either salted water or whey. The food product is prepared, packed into jars and the starter is added. Left at room temperature for several days the lactic acid builds up and the food is preserved.
Why use lacto-fermentation instead of canning, bottling or freezing?
Lacto-fermentation is a low energy form of preserving food. It does not require energy consumption for heating or cooling or a great deal of other resources. Also, the fermenting or culturing of the food, produces a different flavour, the food is more easily digestible and has increased nutrient content. It all sounds good to me!
I still have more questions than answers. Like, how can you be sure the food is properly fermented? How long will the food products last when fermented? Are they safe to eat in pregnancy? What types of foods can be fermented? How do you ferment fruits? What do they taste like?????
The best way of finding out, is to give it a go myself. I picked a 'recipe' based on a few that I had read around the web. I have plenty of green beans in the garden and I started from there.
This is what I did...
Cut up and blanch the beans for 2min.
While the beans are blanching, slice a clove of garlic and drop in the bottom of a clean preserving jar.
Remove the beans from the boiling water and place into iced water, until cool. (I didn't have any ice, so I used the kids frozen bottle coolers as ice blocks!)
Pat dry the beans. A two year old helper may be necessary!
Pack the beans into the jar. It's good to lay the jar on it's side to do this.
Fill the jar with a solution of 1 and one half Tb unrefined sea salt in 2c filtered water.
Add another sliced clove of garlic to the top of the jar.
Cover the jar with the screw top lid and leave at room temperature for three days. After this time the beans should be properly cultured and ready for storage.
I'll let you know how it turns out in a few days.
Have you ever used lacto-fermentation? Can you recommend a good recipe or site?