By Joan Haynes, ND
I’m a big gardener. I’m a naturopathic physician. I’m fascinated by microbiology and the impact of nutrition on good health. Fermentation was inevitable, but, intimidating. What a wonderful surprise to learn how easy fermentation is.
Fermentation is the process by which microorganisms – bacteria, yeast, and mold – transforms food and extends its usefulness. It makes foods more nutritious, and delicious. Many of our common foods and drinks are fermented: cheese, wine, bread, beer, chocolate, coffee, pickles, sauerkraut, yogurt and more.
I used the book Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Ellix Katz. Much more than a cookbook – his stories helped me connect in a new way with the vital connection we have with what we eat. Sandor is HIV positive and obsessed with fermentation. He lives in an intentional community and has experimented time and again with recipes on the members. His experiences and stories motivated me to give it a go. Plus, I planted a big batch of cucumbers, and they were ripe.
The recipe I used was called Sour Pickles on page 50, which works for any vegetable. I only needed 4 items:
- We got an old crock pot at a thrift store.
- I sliced up cucumbers, carrots, garlic cloves and added grape leaves*
- I poured the salt water over the veggies. (A little less than one TBSP of salt per cup of water.)
- Put a plate on top, weighted it, and covered with a cloth.
*Grape leaves are for the tannins which make the pickles crunchy
That’s it. Check it every day. It’s ready in 1 to 4 weeks, then refrigerate.
Wow, are they good!