Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lacto-fermented Ginger Carrots

I've been canning this year.  It's a fairly new thing for me, but I've found some recipes I love and really don't think I could live without.  Blueberry Jam, Sweet Pickle Relish and Pickled Radishes & Onions (I know - sounds a little odd, but trust me - it's like crack) are my favorites right now.  My husband made a point of telling me we were out of the relish on Monday.  I think he wants more too.

I was looking for a carrot recipe today and had a light bulb go off in my head.  I have a great cookbook called Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon that covers traditional food preparation.  Lacto-fermentation is a method of preserving vegetables and fruits that doesn't require a hot water bath.  It's like making creme fraiche - you leave it on the counter or in a cupboard for a few days and presto - something great! 

This is something that is truly sustainable, and I had to try it.  It seems a little scary - leaving fresh food out on the counter for a few days and then eating it is pretty out there for me.  Because of this, I've been dancing around it for a while.  I have several books on the subject, and I keep pulling them out, then putting them away again.  I am the Queen of Procrastination, after all.

This one recipe struck me as very simple, so I went for it.  It doesn't require any special equipment, although I did sterilize the jar I used since it had been sitting in my cupboard for a while.  Lacto-fermented vegetables are supposed to be very healthy, since they contain the lacto-bacillus bacteria (just like in yogurt) and can help repopulate your gut with this good bacteria. 

According to Fallon,

              ...lactobacilli are ubiquitous, present on the surface of all living things and
             especially numerous on leaves and roots of plants growing in or near the ground....
             The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility
             and increases vitamin levels.  These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful
             enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances.

I'm all for that!  So - I'm supposed to leave these carrots on the counter for three days at room temperature, then I can put them in the fridge or a cool dark place.  The book I'm using says the flavor will improve with time, so it only gets better, right?

Here's the recipe: 

Ginger Carrots (makes 1 quart)

4 cups grated carrots, tightly packed
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 tbsp sea salt
4 tbsp whey (if not available, use an additional tbsp sea salt)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and pound with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer to release the juices.  Place in a quart-sized wide-mouth mason jar and press down firmly with a pounder or a meat hammer until juices cover the carrots,  The top of the carrots should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar.  Cover tightly and leave at room temperature about three days before transferring to cold storage.

My carrots were apparently not as tightly packed as I thought they were, because my final result is several inches below the top of the jar.  It's really amazing how the juices looks like tomato sauce.  I'll update in a few days. 

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