One of our favourite ways of preserving the fall harvest is lacto-fermentation. Most people are aware of the health benefits of ingesting probiotics to aid in digestion, absorb food better and fight obesity. However, eating fermented foods has other health benefits as well, which include anti-microbial, anti-carcinogenic, anti-oxidant, anti-allergenic, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-atherosclerotic and blood pressure lowering effects.
During fermentation, lactobacillus bacteria synthesize vitamins and minerals and remove non-nutrients, and it has been claimed that fermented foods even act as a chelator to bind to harmful toxins in the body. This year we didn’t have time to ferment pickles via this method, but we are currently fermenting the following:
Kim chi: We don’t use a formal recipe for kim chi. Our method is to chop up Napa cabbage and add to a large crock pot to ferment (some people add salt at this point to aid in the fermentation process, but we don’t bother). Drain the cabbage a day or two later, then add grated ginger, carrot, daikon and green onions, along with this kim chi base: https://www.amazon.com/momoya-Momoya-Kimchee-Base-15z/dp/B004SBELRU (available at most Asian stores). At this point you can add other ingredients too; this year we have added some grated turmeric to even further enhance the anti-inflammatory effects of our chi. Keep the veggies submerged (you can weigh them down with pots filled with water, etc. if your crock pot doesn’t come with weights) and mix and taste every few days until the chi is sufficiently tangy for your liking (generally 1-2 weeks). Then jar, refrigerate and enjoy.
Kim Chi UPDATE...
Today was chi bottling day today – the house smells lovely! The kim chi is tangy, slightly spicy and ready to be refrigerated to slow down further fermentation. We like to eat a few spoonfuls with our meals for a dose of probiotics, increased immunity, and the health benefits of daikon, cabbage, ginger and (this time) turmeric as well.
Hot sauce: I didn’t know until this year that Tabasco, Sriracha and other hot sauces are fermented (how did I not know this??). This year we are fermenting peppers in brine and plan to blend up some hot sauces with different spices, etc. once the peppers are ready. Basic recipe is here: https://www.feastingathome.com/fermented-hot-sauce-simple-and-delicious/. We will report back!
UPDATE! The Verdict is in....
Today I blended the first jar of our fermented peppers, a mixture of green, red and orange hot peppers and some garlic cloves. I added just enough of the brine to create a fairly thick sauce. The sauce tastes really good and tastes like an un-sweet (and slightly salty) sriracha sauce; however it is very spicy. It will likely mellow out after sitting in the fridge for a while.
In the meantime, I’ll let the other peppers ferment longer so we can compare, contrast and try some modifications to the next rounds (maybe by adding honey for a Sriracha-like sauce, vinegar for a sauce more reminiscent of Tabasco, or mango to make a milder, fruity version).
(Note the new “lids” on the pepper jars; filling a ziplock baggie with water and resting it on the top of the jar seems to be more effective at keeping the peppers submerged and preventing mold.)
This week, we blitzed up our second jar of fermented peppers. Instead of blending with the brine, we added vinegar until we were happy with the consistency. I’m really happy with this round; the flavor is very similar to tabasco sauce, but the sauce is thicker. Fermented hot sauce is definitely a new family favourite, and I love how simple this recipe is!