Fermentation for Dummies

That is not a reflection of you…just me.

I’ve been an aspiring fermenter for years now! It’s (most of) all I’ve wanted: to be confident in my ability to ferment veggies. I could then pass them on to others as gifts, eat them for gut health, and relish in my accomplishment! Unfortunately, I’ve proven myself to be inadequate time and again.

At my earliest stages, I used to squeeze the life out of cabbage (and my arm muscles), cram it into 6 separate jars and monitor it fervently, only to find it had molded somewhere along the way. I’m embarrassed to admit how many times that happened.

After that, I joined a Facebook group solely for fermentation and was inspired to make my Grandpa’s dill pickles. The recipe was part of our history – I had to recreate it! I bought a crock and carefully followed the instructions. They smelled like Grandpa’s pickles, they looked like Grandpa’s pickles, and they even kind of tasted like them. However, the pickles had deteriorated from the inside-out and I wasn’t really sure how safe they were to eat…

Fast forward to two years ago. I got Fermented for Christmas and decided I would give it a shot again! I made sauerkraut (less than impressed) and spicy/garlicky carrots. They were delicious – SO delicious that my aunt (who hates carrots) tried one on impulse and has been asking me when I’m making them again ever since. Success!

Then…I had a baby and forgot how to do anything except produce milk, do the laundry, and coo.

So here we are, years down this road. I’ve got all the supplies, including these awesome pickle pipes that my parents got me as a gift; I should be all ready to go!! Late in the fall, I decided it was time to try it again. And it was GLORIOUS! You guys, the crispy carrots and spicy, garlic Brussels sprouts are the best fermented goodies I’ve ever made. They’re so good that even my hubby and 17 month old son are loving them!!

They were incredibly easy to make (recipes below). I would also advocate for the following fermenting supports to help out any dummy (like me):

  • Large mason jars (half or full gallon) so that you don’t have to stuff a million jars – bulk creations, people!
  • Pickle pipes or plastic lids
    • Why these? Both give you the freedom from burping your jars as gasses build up! They release gasses as they build and you don’t have to worry about bacteria getting in!
  • A room that’s far away from everyone, because this gets stinky

Ready to find out how to make these delicious probiotic snacks? Super. I intentionally made more brine than necessary to cover both recipes as I made them together at the time. You’re free to use the brine for any gallon-fermenting desires!

Fermented Carrot Sticks

FERMENTED CARROTS – Supplies/Ingredients

  • 1/2 gallon mason jar (rinse with white vinegar before filling)
  • pickle pipe/plastic lids
  • 1/2 gallon filtered water
  • 1/4 cup real salt (for a 3% brine)
  • 10-15 large organic carrots (depending on the size)

Directions

Heat the 1/2 gallon of filtered water in a pot. Add the salt and stir until dissolved. Peel and slice carrots into sticks. Shove the carrots as tightly as you can into the jar. Once you’ve filled the bottom, you can lay more on their sides.

The idea is to wedge them in so that nothing floats up above the water line. Laying them on their sides (provided they are long enough) will still accomplish this goal because the mouth of the jar is narrower than the body.

After everything is situated, pour in the brine. Save the rest of the brine for your next jar! Set the pickle pipe or plastic lid on the jar and place it in something that can catch any excess liquid that may escape (e.g. a plastic tub). Leave it be for about 3 weeks! Taste test a stick to see if it’s to your liking. The brine should be cloudy and your carrots should be nice and crisp:

carrots-12-17

 

FERMENTED SPICY BRUSSELS SPROUTS – Supplies/Ingredients

  • CLEAN 1/2 gallon mason jar (rinse with white vinegar before filling)
  • pickle pipe/plastic lids
  • 1/2 gallon filtered water
  • 1/4 cup real salt (for a 3% brine)
  • about 1.5 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 4-5 jalapenos (or to taste)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (or to taste)
  • cabbage leaf

Directions

Now that you’ve trimmed and halved your Brussels sprouts, you can work on the jalapenos. You’re free to roast them over an open flame (gas stove top – requires quite a bit of attention), under the broiler (again, a lot of attention), or just on 400F in the oven for about 30 minutes. Once they’re soft and browned, remove the pan and wait until they’ve cooled to cut the stem off and remove as many seeds as you like. I like it hot, so I left all the seeds in there. Chop up what’s left and mix it with the minced garlic. Add the the Brussels spouts and jalapeno/garlic mixture to the jar in layers, dispersing that spicy, garlicky mixture evenly throughout. You should have a few inches of space left in the top of your jar.

Once everything is in, use a clean cabbage leaf or weight to keep the Brussels sprouts from floating up. In a pinch, I use a clean shot glass. Because the jalapeno and garlic is chopped so small, it can float up to the surface easily and that can result in mold. The pickle pipe should help keep out any bacteria, but you can never be too sure so it’s best to use something like a cabbage leaf to keep everything under the water line.

Again, after everything is situated, pour in the brine. Set the pickle pipe or plastic lid on the jar and place it in something that can catch any excess liquid that may escape (e.g. a plastic tub). I left these for the same amount of time as the carrots – about 3 weeks. Taste test to see if it’s to your liking. The brine should be cloudy and your Brussels sprouts should still be crispy.

Congratulations! You did it!! I told you – Fermentation for Dummies. Refrigerate all jars to stop the fermentation process and see how long you can hang onto them. I’ll warn you, it’s not long. They’re so good they disappear fast!



hayley

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