Not Just Sauerkraut, You Can Ferment Greens, Too
Beet, mustard and dandelion greens. Boston, bibb and butter lettuce. Romaine, collards, Swiss chard, arugula — you get the idea. The plethora of leafy vegetables available at virtually every grocery store and farmers market is enough to make your thumbs turn green
Whether or not you grow your own greens, you can purchase something like the presently trending kale, collard greens or Swiss chard and ferment them as easily as cabbage, using as few as 2 or 3 jars at a time in just a few hours.
The following method was inspired by a blog called Simply Homemaking.
Start by making your brine, which consists of 1 quart of chlorine-free water and 3 tablespoons of sea salt or kosher salt per jar.
Allow the mixture to boil, then cool it to room temperature.
Soak your greens in large amounts of cold water, then rinse them again. A salad spinner saves time in removing the excess water, in batches, with a large pan on the side to put them into.
Strip thick ribs from the leaves, then slice them lengthwise into narrow strips. Keep a few leaves intact to place on top so the others stay under the brine.
Sterilize your jars (large mouth jars work best), rings, lids, a large-mouth funnel and a stone the size of a child’s fist to hold the veggies under the brine in each jar. Place them in a large stock pot and boil, removing the jars with a clamp.
Put a teaspoon of caraway seeds into the bottom for flavor and fill each jar with greens, packing them down tightly, mashing them with a pestle. When full to an inch below the lowest ring of the jar, place a whole leaf on top, then a stone.
Pour brine into the jars to just below the lowest ring. A clean knife insert on the side will help remove air bubbles before adding the lid tightly.
Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage.
Kimchi is the Korean version of pickled vegetables with the frequent addition of spices to liven the palate.
Lacto-fermentation is the process created by “good” bacteria called Lactobacillus, which is present on all plants, especially those closest to the ground, and can convert sugars into lactic acid.
As Cultures for Health explains: “Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria … Beyond preservation advantages, lacto-fermentation also increases or preserves the vitamin and enzyme levels, as well as digestibility, of the fermented food. In addition, lactobacillus organisms are heavily researched for substances that may contribute to good health.”
The Cultured Club tells the story of a woman who saw for herself what fermented veggie juice, aka pickling brine, looked like under a microscope: “Through the eye of the lens, there dancing in front of me, I could see these ‘living foods’ buzzing, teeming and vibrating with life. When you eat these living, fermented foods, you feel the ‘life’ they impart. These are high vibrational foods which have gone through a process of ‘lacto-fermentation.’ This is where natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creating lactic acid and you can clearly see them continually buzz around.”
Lacto-fermentation is an ancient practice used across millennia and cultures to preserve food.
Combinations of vegetables can introduce different levels of heat and flavor, such as fermenting cabbage with spicier greens such as turnip or mustard greens.
However, brassica vegetables are goitrogens, so begin eating them in small portions.
I eat a few ounces of Sauerkraut every day.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively