How To Preserve Vegetables Using Lacto-Fermentation: Whey To Go!

Pound it down in the bowl until it releases it’s juices.

  • Lacto-fermentation has been in practice for centuries (I don’t know why I’m always amazed at how our ancestors knew how to do things for health that we in our modern society are clueless to do).  Before the era of canning and such, this was how to preserve food.  I like to use whey in my fermentation. By this you create an anaerobic process by which no oxygen should be introduced, so it’s done in tightly closed containers for that reason.  You don’t absolutely need whey for fermentation as vegetables all have the bacteria necessary to accomplish this, but the addition of it creates an immediate environment to protect the vegetable until they can begin to do their thing.  The benefits of this method are impressive:
  •                               – helps heal digestive issues
  •                               – increases vitamin levels
  •                               – puts healthy flora in our intestines
  •                               – produces good enzymes and probiotics
  •                               – helps with nutrient absorption

All this leads to better health.  Many of the disease problems we have today are directly related to our diets.  Many of us know this, of course, but don’t know what to do about it.  Well, an excellent place to begin is by  using lacto-fermentation to make a simple condiment:  sauerkraut.   The process is easy to work into your schedule, and in the end, you should reap the benefits of a healthier digestive tract.  It’s better to make sauerkraut yourself than to buy it at the grocery store.  Most of the time vinegar has been added and that is not how to make it beneficial for our bodies.

I had always wanted to make sauerkraut, but I like things to be simple.  I didn’t want to deal with the gallon jug, the weighing down of the ingredients with a plate to keep the shredded cabbage submerged, the using of an air lock, the taking off the scum, etc.  Then last year, I read about this time-honored method from Sally Fallon’s book  Nourishing Traditions.  I found the book at the library and was amazed at the information it contained.  I especially loved the ease and simplicity of the whole thing.

So, book in hand, I made my first batch.   Basic instructions were that you shred a head of cabbage in a large bowl.  Add 1 Tbsp sea salt and 4 Tbsp whey to the bowl.  Pound it down with a wooden spoon until the liquid begins releasing.  Place it all in a quart glass jar and pound it some more until the liquid covers the ingredients. Leave at least a one inch space at the top.   Put a tight lid on it, leave it on the counter for a few days, and then store it in the fridge.  What I found was that it was super easy and the flavor kept getting better the older it got.  I would encourage you to get Sally Fallon’s book for more detailed directions and information. It is fascinating reading.

Notice the needed space at the top of the jar and the “just in case it overflows” container. The bowl on the right is what’s left over from last  year and still yummy.

This year, I decided to make the sauerkraut with the addition of carrots and onions.  I’m excited to see how this will taste, and it only took me about 30 minutes to make.  Who says the old ways of doing things are time consuming?

Now, I can see the question coming:  where do I get the whey?  Best answer: make it yourself.  I take my week- old raw milk and I leave it on the top of the fridge for about 5 days. By the time I make my ricotta cheese, kefir, and any baking I do with it, there is only about a quart left anyway.  The milk will  separate into two by products:  curds and whey (remember the poem, “Little Miss Muffet”?).  I drain the curds into a cheesecloth-lined strainer over a bowl to catch the whey, and let it drain for several hours.  The curds I season with salt, pepper, minced garlic, and minced onion and use as a kind of cream cheese on toast, bagels, or celery.  The whey I store in glass container in the fridge.  It will keep for months and is great for pre-soaking grains or using in biscuit or pancake recipes.  You can also use it in your homemade mayo recipe and it will increase the storage time of the mayo in the fridge.

Today, we are rediscovering  that what was considered an old, outdated practice of food preservation, in my opinion,  is better after all.

And by the whey (get it ?), I finally bought the Nourishing Traditions book because I got tired of constantly renewing it at the library.

What do you think ?

Please comment – I would love to reply

After 24 hours. Notice the head space is reduced by half.

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