Our garden is on the verge of production. I could probably say that all year, every year, but right now it really does seem that way. The beans are just starting to flower. The tomatoes are just starting to ripen. The okra and melons are still very small. And the Swiss chard is starting to show signs of withering in our 95 degree days. So, last week I started pulling more of it for meals. We’ve got about a half-dozen of these green plants of the Lucullus variety growing right next to a few beets. The stems of this particular variety are purported to taste similar to asparagus and so I’ve been dicing them up to saute. The greens are a lot like spinach and cook up quickly to add to eggs or meat. So, when I needed only the greens for a particular dish, I decided to make use of those stems by fermenting them with some garden herbs. The process was simple enough that I wouldn’t really call it a recipe. If that were the basis for which we decided if something was a recipe or not, then we wouldn’t have any lacto-fermented vegetable recipes. They’re just so simple and flexible. Anyway, I took what looks like a large bunch of Swiss chard that you’d find at the grocery store. There were probably 8-10 big leaves, some with thick stems and some with thin stems. I removed the greens and sliced the stems into a length that would fit into my wide-mouth pint jar. I added a few slices of onion and some oregano and chives from my garden. I then made a brine at a ratio of 3 Tablespoons of salt to 4 cups of water. (I usually only use 2 Tablespoons of salt per quart of water, but it is quite hot here right now.) I poured the brine over the vegetables and herbs until they were fully submerged, but leaving about 1 inch of headspace. I then placed a ceramic fermentation weight over everything, put the lid on tight, and let it ferment on the counter. A few days later it is showing signs of delicious fermentation – bubbles, carbon dioxide needing to be released, and a slight twang to the brine. I’m going to leave them a few more days before we gobble them up in one meal, if they’re anything like the fermented carrots we love so much.
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