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A Quick Lesson In Lacto-Fermented Veggies

Written for The River Current publication

 
Last week I had the cool experience of sharing some nutri-knowledge in my first ‘paid’ speaking engagement.  Yay me.  People actually listened (and laughed) as I spoke to them.  I had been invited to prepare a presentation on lacto-fermented vegetables.  I know, your eyebrows are raised and you are asking yourself…what in the heck is that?

Fermentation is a buzz word out there in certain health-minded circles at the present time; but it is actually an age old art of preserving food that has been around for ages.  Actually, fermentation is documented as far back as 50 BC.

In earlier times, people knew how to preserve foods for long periods of time without the use of freezers or canning machines.  This was done through the process of lacto-fermentation.  Lactic acid is a by-product of fermentation that acts as a preservative and naturally inhibits ‘bad’ bacteria and promotes the growth of ‘good’ bacteria; aka probiotics.

Food is placed in a vessel (a jar, crock or bottle) and kept submerged under a liquid brine that usually contains salt, whey or another type of probiotic inoculator.  It sits for several days while the probiotics proliferate and do their work at food preservation. 

Preserving foods and veggies in this manner, has become somewhat obsolete in today’s society. When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to take me down to her cellar and gather from a crock, crisp pickles that she would put on the dinner table with our meals.  (Delicious pickles, I might add.) Unbeknownst to her and the rest of us at her table, were the marvelous health benefits these fermented pickles had to offer.
 
As it turns out, the same bacteria that helps to preserve food also plays an essential role in gut health and in a well-balanced immune response.  The simple act of fermentation increases the vitamins and food enzymes found in dairy products, grains, legumes, veggies and fruits…increasing nourishment and flavor.  Ferments are rich in probiotics…a known beneficial bacteria that builds immunity, improves digestion and keeps you healthy.  Stomach health can be greatly improved by meal planning with fermented foods!

A more commonly known fermented food is sauerkraut.  Cabbage has a natural bacteria living in it, which will do the fermentation work for you.  Jars of sauerkraut found on grocery shelves today, will not have these wonderful probiotics in them…due to the heat processing used during preservation.  In some specialty stores, it is possible to find fermented cabbage in the refrigerator section of the store. 

I have had a blast making my own.    If you would like to learn more about the many health benefits these fab ferments have to offer, message me on my blog at buttergirlgoesorganic.com.

With all this talk of cabbage and sauerkraut here is a yummy fall recipe for you to try!
 
 
 
 
Sauerkraut with Bacon and Apples

*Ingredients:
1/4 pound sliced apple-wood smoked bacon
2 tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and grated
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups apple cider or apple juice
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 24-oz. jar of refrigerated sauerkraut; drained, not rinsed
*As you know; I prefer using organic ingredients, whenever possible

Directions:
1. Cook bacon in a large skillet until crispy.  Drain excess fat from pan, leaving about a tablespoon.  Remove bacon from the pan and let cool on a plate lined with a paper towel. When cool, crumble the bacon and set aside.
2. Add the apples and onion to the skillet; sautéing for 10 minutes or until the onion is tender.  Add the garlic and sauté an additional minutes or two. 
3. Stir in the apple cider and vinegar. Increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced to a thick, syrupy consistency.
4. Reduce the heat to low. Stir in the sauerkraut and bacon, cover, and cook 10 minutes, or until sauerkraut is heated through and tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

 

 

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