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I have been waiting a few months to make some fermented vegetables. I know, it doesn’t sound all that exciting to be looking forward to sauerkraut and pickles of all kinds, but I’m seriously jazzed to have some homemade kraut on the table again.

You see, it’s just been too hot to ferment veggies here. So while everyone’s favorite water kefir and some yogurt and cheese have been happening, these fermented vegetables just had to wait… until now. So I busted out my gallon jar and some ceramic vegetable weights and got down to business with a bottle of water kefir by my side.

But let me tell you why this workhorse of a ferment – stinky as they may be – are a welcome addition to our table.

The Ultimate Convenience Foods

When I make fermented vegetables I try to make enough to last us a week or two. For us, that is somewhere between two quarts and a gallon. It takes a bit of time to get it all chopped up but it’s really a drop in the bucket. Especially since I then use these fermented vegetables as the raw, enzymatic portion of our meal. I don’t have to make a salad or salsa because the fresh flavor comes from these pre-made convenience foods.

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Completely Versatile

While some ferments are more specific to certain cuisines – think cortido for Latin American food – most ferments are basic enough to be used with any cuisine. This batch of of kraut contains green and purple cabbage, cilantro, and garlic. It tops tacos and salads and goes into a bowl with a chicken and veggie stir-fry.

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Keeping Quality

With that type of versatility, we’re likely to scoop from this jar for at least one meal of the day. After about a week, when the jar is half-filled, I’m planning to start a big batch of fermented carrot sticks with garlic. This big jar will keep on our counter top, without refrigeration, for a few months. But I’m pretty sure it’ll be gone in a couple of weeks.

Fermented vegetables are delicious, tangy, and smelly – in the best of ways. So maybe they’re not as exciting as water kefir or yogurt, but they’re the underdog of the ferment world.