Since we have systematically reduced the natural microbial content of the human microbiome with widespread use of antibiotics, an increase in alcohol consumption, and by chlorinating and sanitizing our water resources, it is very important that we include fermented foods in our diets to replenish the commensal (helpful) bacteria that have resided with humans for tens of thousands of years. For More Information on why fermented foods are essential to human health, click here: https://www.arespectfullife.com/2019/10/21/the-role-of-fermented-foods-in-human-health/
Fermenting foods can be easily accomplished with a simple saltwater brine, and modern fermentation lids on wide mouth Mason jars. The lids that I recommend can be found on Amazon here: ttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B075LRMRDQ/ . Glass weights are also helpful to keep your ferments submerged and are also available on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/4-Pack-Fermentation-Glass-Weights-Handle/dp/B076V66FZ4/
It is IMPORTANT that you use spring or well water that is untreated. Chlorinated municipal water can destroy the healthy bacteria in your ferment. It is also important that you use canning salt, or salt without iodine. Iodine is antimicrobial and will also inhibit the growth of the lactobacillus reuteri in your ferment.
The sweet spot for most ferments is a 2% – 3% salinity for your brine solution. The basic ferment salt to water ratio at 2.5% is 1 tablespoon of salt per 1 cup of water (or 25 grams of salt per liter is you prefer metric). There is a handy brine calculator here: https://myfermentedfoods.com/tools/brine-calculator/
It takes 72 hours for vegetables to ferment, and 2-3 weeks to become ‘sour’. Leave your ferment with lid on counter for 3 days, ensuring that it is at room temperature and not in direct sunlight, then refrigerate. To make your ferment sour, leave it sit at room temperature for 2-3 weeks. The longer it sits, the more sour it will become.
You will sometimes have a yeast that will grow on top of ferments that is white. This is normal and not of concern. Spoon the yeast off the top when the ferment is complete right before refrigeration. You may also use a clean towel or paper towel to wipe away any excess. If there is black or pink mold – your ferment has been contaminated and you need to discard it.
Fermented foods will keep in your properly maintained refrigerator at 39 degrees F for many months. Always discard foods if pink or black mold begins to grow.
Caution Concerning Sodium:
If you have hypertension or cardiovascular disease, it is vitally important that you limit your salt intake to no more than 1,500 mg per day. Avoiding prepackaged foods and processed meats, and limiting cheese and sodium is important for vascular health. Visit the American Heart Association for more info: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/shaking-the-salt-habit-to-lower-high-blood-pressure. Fermented foods are a source of sodium in your diet. It is best to limit the consumption of fermented foods in a salt brine to 3 small portions weekly.
Sauerkraut – 1 small head of finely shredded cabbage, 1 TBSP fennel seed, ½ TBSP mustard seed, ½ tsp res pepper flakes. Ferment 2-3 weeks.
Green Tomatoes – green tomatoes halved, pepper rings, 4 cloves garlic, and slat brine. Ferment 1-2 weeks.
Carrots – Carrots chopped into sticks and added to a salt brine. Ferment 1 week.
Hot Sauce – Ferment 1 pound of Serrano or jalapeno peppers with 3 garlic cloves in 1 quart of brine for 2 weeks. When fermentation is complete, puree the peppers and garlic with the salt brine, 1 large tomato, ½ a red onion, and 1 TBSP white wine vinegar in a blender, then refrigerate.