It’s great to grow your own food, but finding ways to preserve it is also important.
There are many ways to preserve food. Freezing, pickling, dehydrating, clamping and fermenting are some of the ways food can be preserved. A lot of these require energy to get the food to a state for preservation, for example, heating berries with sugar to make jam. A lot of these methods can also be performed with minimal energy requirements, or at least by using less energy or more sustainable energy sources (think cooking on a wood stove or using a solar powered dehydrator).
I’ve been looking into fermentation as a method of preserving food. I feel like fermentation is a really good way for us to preserve produce. Fermented foods are highly nutritious, as well as being delicious and long-lasting. Fermented foods just don’t really seem to go off, or at the very least they last for a long time. Fermentation is the orignial form of pickling, before preserving liquids and mechanisms were readily available. I love their tart sour flavour. They are great in salads and sandwiches. We often have a little bowl or sauerkraut or kimchi on the table at dinner time, and we have 1/2 a cup of kombucha tea each day.
I have been learning about fermentation this year, turning to books by Bill Mollison and Sandor Katz. There is a lot of information about fermentation on the internet as well. I have been making kombucha, sourdough, ginger beer, water kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and pickled radishes. I want to try pickled eggs and lemons soon!
Making pickled radishes is very simple, as with all kraut-chi ferments. The trick, or one of the tricks, is to keep the ferments in a cool dark place (although some ferments need sunlight to kill bacteria). We are lucky to have a big (1.5x3m) walk in pantry, with a bit of space to have jars of ferments bubbling away in the dark. I keep my kombucha on the kitchen bench though. Our house is always around 22-24 degrees celcius, which makes things ferment a bit quicker (and probably why my kombucha is so sour!).
So, I bought a bunch of fresh radishes at the local market. I washed them thoroughly and trimmed the ends. I sliced them finely and washed them and soaked them in salty water (1tsp salt in 500ml water). Then I drained them and began layering them in a clean jar. I placed a layer of radish, then sprinkled salt and dried dill tips on top. I continued this way, also adding in 2 cloves of garlic (peeled) and one chopped red chili. I closed the jar and left it in the pantry to ferment. A week later, the radishes are lovely and tender, and they’re tangy, with a strong garlic, chilli flavour, which I love! I am keeping them in the fridge now, to stop (slow down) the fermentation process. They will be delicious in salads and on burgers and on their own.
If you want to try some of your own pickled radish, you will need:
- a bunch or radishes
- 1-2 Tbsp salt
- fresh unchlorinated filtered water
- dill tips
- a clean, sterile jar
A lot of people are worried about this type of preserving technique. They worry about mould. Sometimes mould can appear. The trick is to keep the vegetables salty because the acidity that salt causes keeps moulds away. Also, you need to make sure that your vegetables are always submerged in the liquid. I regularly check my sauerkraut and kimchi, pushing the vegetables below the surface of the water and adding more water if necessary.
So, these delicious radishes were an experiment. I can’t wait to find something new to pickle. I really want to try snow peas as well as cucumber (the original bread and butter pickles!).
So, do you ferment? Are you up for the challenge?