How exciting is that first basketful of produce in early summer? It makes all the strenuous spring planting worth it and then some, right?
That first little harvest, usually a little under ripe due to impatient anticipation, is one of my favorite things in the world.
And for those new to the world of lacto fermented foods, that anticipation is twofold, for now you have something you grew yourself, free from pesticides and other industrial processes, to pack into jars and put away for later. Or, more likely, to eat as soon as it is ready, because freshly fermented garden produce is a culinary delight unknown to many. Young pickles and sauerkraut are something I look forward to every year, but you can ferment anything picked out of your garden this time of year.
If you have planted herbs such as dill and cilantro, good for you! Fresh herbs are delicious when used in vegetable fermentation. This means you can season your own ferments and produce a delicious cultured food that is 100% your very own.
Fermented vegetables are one of the simplest cultured foods you can produce, and a jar of cold, fermented veggies goes well with any summer menu.
One basic recipe will apply to pretty much all of your produce, including: (but not limited to)
- Peppers (Bell, Jalapeño, Banana, etc.)
- Garlic (cloves and scapes)
- Tomatoes (In salsa, usually.)
- Green Beans
All of these and more can be made into delicious, nutritious lacto-fermented goodies with little time and effort.
General Lacto Fermentation Recipe
- 1 pound produce, seeded, peeled, cut, chopped or sliced to your preference
- 1 gallon room temperature purified water
- Sea salt
- Apple cider vinegar (with the mother) or kombucha
- Wash 2 quart jars or 4 pint jars in hot soapy water, and give them a crystal clear rinse. Allow them to air dry while you prep the veggies.
- Begin packing the jars with the veggies. Things like peppers, okra, green beans, and carrots can be done whole or cut into sticks for finger snacking. Get creative. Combine things in the same jar. Stick in dill or cilantro, a hot pepper or two, and make it your very own.
- Add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart, 1/2 teaspoon per pint.
- Add 1 tablespoon or more of starter (kombucha or apple cider vinegar) and fill the jar up to 1 inch below the rim with the purified water.
- Cover with a airlock ferment lid. You can also use a normal disc and ring lid, but you will have to burp the jar when the button on top begins to pop up.
- Keep burping the jar, checking on it and tasting it for about 3-4 days. When it is just the right level of sour for you, put it into the root cellar, pantry or refrigerator. Keep open jars cool and covered.