Last week, I stumbled across a video from The New York Times, about Sandor Katz, the author of Wild Fermentation. I've been a fan of fermented foods for several years but I've certainly never done any fermenting of my own. Jordan makes Sourdough Bread on a weekly basis from a starter that he's kept alive since 2011! Some of my personal fermented favorites are Bubbies Pickles and GT's Kombucha; I've also been known to go through phases where I drink Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar or Miso Master's Miso like it's going out of style. Fermented foods always perk me up and there's a lot of science to explain why.
Fermented foods are foods that have been through a process of lactofermentation, where natural bacteria feed on sugar and starch creating lactic acid, which preserves the food and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics. Natural fermentation of foods has also been shown to preserve nutrients in food and break the food down to a more digestible form. If those aren't enough reasons to get on board, fermented foods are also teeming with healthy probiotics!
While we were visiting family this past weekend, we were lucky enough to be given a fermentation crock! We chose sauerkraut as our first fermentation endeavor because it's simple and it doesn't take a very long time to ferment. I'm not posting a specific recipe or instructions because we're just starting out and I'm not sure we should be giving anyone advice, but I'll give you a basic idea of how to get started.
Once you have a crock or suitable container, pack it with chopped cabbage and sprinkle it with salt as you layer-in the cabbage. The general ratio is 3 Tbsp of non-iodized salt to every 5 pounds of cabbage. Tamp the mixture down as you go and when you've made your final layer, top it with a heavy weight before putting the lid on the container. The brine (water from the cabbage + salt) should rise above the weight. We're not sure how long we're going to let ours ferment - we need to do a little more reading. We added carrots, onion, garlic, and some spices to ours - I'm sure we'll refine the recipe when we figure out what we like best!