Lacto-fermented Vegetables (Sauerkraut)

Lactobacillus bacteria have been used in food production for a very long time, in dishes that range from kimchi to sour herrings and cured meats. To produce fermented vegetables in this way the most common method is to increase the salinity of the preparation to 2-2.5 per cent salt, thus giving the lactobacilli an advantage over the more harmful microbes. As they grow, they also change the pH level by producing lactic acid. It is important to maintain good hygiene when preparing fermented vegetables.

The best vegetables to ferment are root vegetables, radishes, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic and ginger. Green leafy vegetables can be fermented, but generally result in a strong bitter taste.

INGREDIENTS / EQUIPMENT

Desired vegetable/s

Good quality sea salt

Pickling jar or other type of non-reactive vessel, such as a large jar (plus a non-reactive weight that fits within the vessel)

Kitchen scales

METHOD

1. Chop, slice or shred vegetables into small piece (they need to be cut small enough to start releasing their own juice when pressed).

2. Combine vegetables with sea salt. The amount of salt you use will be 2-2.5% of the total weight of your vegetables. (If you have 100g of vegetable, use 2-2.5g of sea salt)

3. Pound or press vegetable/salt mix with meat mallet, wood spoon or the like until juice is released and begins covering the vegetables when pressed.

4. Place vegetable mix and liquid in pickling-style glass jar, or any sealable glass container. Vessel should be sterilised with boiling water before using (allow to cool).

5. It is beneficial to use a vessel with a wide opening, so a weight can be placed on top of vegetables to ensure liquid covers the mix completely.

6. If vegetables are exposed to air, mould can grow and ruin the mix. However, do not be concerned if small amounts of foam occur on the top of the liquid.

7. Seal container, air tight, and leave to ferment for 10-14 days minimum.

8. The use of a digital pH-meter or pH paper strips can be beneficial to indicate when ferment is ready – it should register about 3.3pH when ready.

9. Once ready, refrigerate.

10. Keeps for 1-2 months.