Fermentation is one of the most ancient forms of food preservation and one of the easiest. Here are some recipes for fermented vegetables and fruits that are delicious and full of good-for-you bacteria (like the ones in yogurt).
If you're new to lacto-fermenting food, be sure to check out the first two articles.
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Lacto-fermentation takes nothing more than salt, vegetables, and water - no canning, no fancy equipment. This simple process works because of the lucky fact that bacteria that could be harmful to us can't tolerate much salt, but there are healthy bacteria (think yogurt) that can. I think of them as the bad guys vs. the good guys. Lacto-fermentation wipes out the bad guys in its first stage, then lets the good guys get to work during stage two.
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Traditional lacto-fermentation - the process that produces real sauerkraut and kimchi - starts by adding salt. Lots of salt. But there are two ways to lacto-ferment food without adding salt.
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Red cabbage makes a colorful variation of traditional sauerkraut. I like to add caraway and juniper berries to mine. Try serving it with crisp, chopped apples for a quick, delicious salad.
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Green beans are terrific when they are fermented. I like to eat them straight out of the jar, but they are also good added to soups and salads.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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This easy to make kimchi is a colorful, spicy variation of the more common cabbage kimchi. It is loaded with naturally good-for-you probiotics. Delicious served alongside Korean or other Asian-style dishes, it is also good mixed into rice and other cooked grains.
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Traditional kimchi usually includes a type of radish - daikon - among its ingredients. Here I've reversed the proportions of radish to cabbage to showcase the radish crunch and taste. Using red-skinned cherry radishes or french breakfast radishes gives this recipe its cheerful color.
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Fermented turnips are a traditional treat in both Asia and Europe. Crunchy and lightly tangy, they are excellent as part of a mixed vegetable salad. They are also great served alongside meat or poultry.
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This lacto-fermented apple chutney is crunchy, lightly tangy and delicious enough to use as a side dish rather than a condiment. Plus you get all the awesome probiotic health benefits of lacto-fermented foods.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Fermented carrots are not only healthy, they are delicious. This method will safely preserve them for months.
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Green cherry tomato pickles are a tangy treat that is delicious served with cheese, or simply as an olive-like snack. This recipe makes great use of this end-of-the-gardening-season ingredient.
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Chard's juicy, crunchy leafstalks deserve to be treated as a unique ingredient entirely separate from the leafy green parts. "Swiss" chard contains enough natural salts that it doesn't even need a salt brine to achieve lacto-fermentation. All you need is water and chard.