Preserving & Fermenting
“The ugly truth is that if people actually went to farmer’s markets to buy serious food, they’d wipe out the whole place in about twenty minutes. The average person is still under the aberrant delusion that food should be somebody else’s responsibility until I’m ready to eat it.”
(from Joel Salatin, Folks This Ain’t Normal)
We should all rely on healthy methods of preserving food for the fall and winter, when seasonal vegetables and fruits are not available anymore. Supermarkets broke one of the most important golden rules of EATING IN SEASON! Now you find imported food all year round, food that travelled thousands of miles and has usually been heavily sprayed to resist long periods of time. This practice destroys the healthy food supply in so many ways, as well as your health! Preserving and fermenting are not hard to do and once you get the hang of it, you would find it’s actually fun too! There are many communities in all parts of the world that maintain these practices and enjoy the rituals every year. For them, this is more than just “putting up” food, it’s a tradition, a celebration and a meaningful event.
There are several ways to preserve food like canning, freezing, drying, and even vacuum sealing. You can freeze mostly everything you pick up fresh from your garden or local farmer’s market, (like green beans, peas, tomatoes, etc). You can dry fruits and veggies in the dehydrator (like apples, herbs, nectarines, zucchini, etc), you can dry and smoke meats. You can sun-dry and air-dry food as well. The vacuum sealer is basically a small appliance that sucks the air out of a bag or a container and then seals it. Many attachments can be purchased with a vac sealer including canisters, jar sealers, lids, bottle stoppers and, bags.
Canning is one of the practices I am most familiar with since it’s something I grew up with and it’s still used a lot in my home country of Romania. People there make wonderful jams and spreads out of various fruits and a traditional canning recipe that mostly includes tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, bell peppers, onions and eggplants. You can use it as a spread or for soups and stews during winter time.
Check out this recipe for one of such traditional Romanian vegetable spreads.
8 lbs fresh eggplants
6 lbs red peppers
2 lbs onions
2 teaspoons salt (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups tomato paste
2 cups olive oil
Over an open flame (gas stove or grill) completely blacken the skins of the eggplants and peppers. Peel skins off immediately. Easiest way to get the last bits off is to do it under a slow running faucet. Puree each of the three vegetables separately in a food processor. And place each in a separate bowl when you are finished. Place oil and onion in a large pot. Saute onions for about 4 minutes over medium-low heat. Add eggplant, onion, salt and pepper. Cook until a thin layer of oil remains on top and when a spoonful of zacusca is removed, only the oil should run off the spoon, not the zacusca. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to meet your tastes. Spoon mixture into sterilized jars of your choosing. It is easiest if they are all the same size. Wipe rims clean and place clean lids and rings on jars. Place into a single layer in large pot (water bath canner if you have one). Fill pot with water up to the necks of the jars. Bring to a boil and boil for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool in water bath. When cool remove from water and you are ready to go. If oil separates just mix it back in when ready to serve. (source: www.food.com)
Personally I love the varieties with fish or mushroom even better!
Fermented foods are natural and healthy sources of beneficial probiotics for your body. People stopped fermenting foods, relying instead on processed (mostly unhealthy) food and so bringing the levels of good bacteria in the gut even lower. Fermenting is actually a very easy thing to do; all you need are vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, horseradish root, parsley root, unripe tomatoes, beets, water, salt and/or whey. You’ll need a large glass jar (or, ideally, a wood barrel) that closes tightly, and a warm place in your house where they can start fermenting.
The end product will be a delicious, sour addition to your meals that can replace salads and go well with stews, roasts, appetizers and much more!
Here is what my husband and I were fermenting this winter and our 6 year old absolutely loves it! All veggies should be organic.
3-4 medium carrots
1 small celery root
1 parsley root
½ horseradish root
Black pepper corns
3-4 Tbsp salt
3/4 gallon water
Place all vegetables in the glass jar and make your own mix and match like shown in the picture (2nd in the slideshow). Press them tightly and place 2 wood sticks at the top to keep them down. Warm up the water (don’t heat up), add salt and dissolve. Then pour it over the vegetables until they are all covered. To speed up the fermentation and ensure a maximum of beneficial probiotics you can also add whey. (Whey can be made from organic raw milk that is left at room temperature. After 2-3 days you’ll see a light yellow liquid separating: that is the whey. You can add around 1-2 Tbsp and less salt). Keep your jar at 70 – 85F for approx. 2 weeks until the vegetables turn sour.
Do you have a favorite recipe for fermenting or preserving fruits and vegetables?
This article originally appeared on Guide2Health.net. It is re-posted here with permission from the author.
Photo Credit: Staci Strauss
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