Some fermented things are quite easy and quick to make. Take these carrots, for instance. I started 2 different fermented carrot projects yesterday. The total time required of me was 15 minutes (I prepared these both as my Lundberg Italian Herb Risotto was simmering away on the stove), and, granted, the fermented carrot sticks take a couple of weeks to ferment, but my net hands-on time was pretty minimal.
I was introduced to the idea of various forms of fermented carrots first through the book “Nourishing Traditions”, but actually tasted some when my friends, Drs. Todd and Molly Ferguson, naturopathic doctors at Prairie Naturopathic in Moorhead, MN, gave me some of their own homemade grated ginger-carrot blend. It was quite zingy, and I ‘bookmarked’ it in my head, to try at some point.
Basic recipe for fermented grated carrots (Thanks to The Nourishing Cook): grate carrots (I didn’t peel mine, as they were organically grown, but I think I would peel them if they are conventionally grown) to equal about 2 cups. Add 2 tsp. salt (or, a combination of salt and whey. I am out of yogurt, do didn’t have whey. Take a look at the link to learn about whey quantities). Grate ginger – around 1 Tbl or so – or to taste. I would err on the side of starting out with less ginger, and then adding more in future batches, unless you’re a super-mega-ginger-fan.
Like the process for making sauerkraut, you mash this all up, and let the salt draw out the natural juices. It helps if its in a slightly warm-ish place, but not hot. I think due to our April Snow Storm (can I just say, UGH!), my kitchen was on the chilly side, and I didn’t have the patience to wait for all those natural juices all day. I left the mixture out a good couple of hours before I put it in a clean pint jar, and topped it just to the top of the carrot-ginger mixture with pure water. I capped it with a clean jar band and lid, and let it on the looser side of tightened. You want gasses to be able to escape during the fermenting process. This can be left our 2 – 3 days, then put in ‘fridge or cold storage area.
Fermented carrot sticks were even easier (and I used this recipe from the Cultures for Health website – excellent e-store, and excellent resource!). Slice carrots into sticks. Dissolve 2 tsp. salt (non-iodized salt) into 2 1/2 c. water. Pack carrots into clean quart jar and pour salt water over the top. It is best if the carrots are submerged and not floating. If they float, cut up a few more to pack ’em in, or adjust them so the floaters stay put. Cap loosely with a jar lid. Let them sit on the counter in a slightly warm place for 2 – 3 weeks, then put in cold storage or ‘fridge.
I thought it was interesting, yet makes sense to me, that the grated carrots fermentation process was much shorter. The whole sticks take a longer time to ferment and get all that good enzymatic action happening. I would imagine it has to do with the releasing of the natural juices, and the surface area difference. Lots of surface area in grated carrots.
How do you eat these? The whole sticks can be snacked on, or added to things where you want a bit of a crunch, like a salad. Don’t cook ’em, as you’ll destroy the beautiful work done on the counter top. The grated ginger-carrots can be used also on top of a salad, in a sandwich, as a garnish or condiment with meat (esp. with roast beef, yum! or chicken. I think it would taste fabulous alongside a chicken stir fry).
And about that Cod Liver Oil: Now, I have not, nor do I imagine I will any time in the near future, attempt to MAKE my own fermented cod liver oil. I’ll leave that to the professionals at Green Pasture, who make my brand. This is a supplement we just started taking recently. I’ve read about it, and thought about it over the last year or two, and just never took the plunge until recently. It’s a little pricey, but from people ‘in the know’ – healthy individuals, on the more natural side of things – taking cod liver oil is like getting a flu shot (without the potentially nasty side effects, one of which being, the efficacy of flu shots is questioned by the CDC itself! Not exactly a winning endorsement). But, besides that, *fermented* cod liver oil had a great ratio of Vitamin D and A, which is important. And, you get the additional enzymatic benefits of fermentation, not to mention omega-3s present in sea critters!
The taste? I get the ‘mint’ flavored variety, and we call it ‘gum juice’ (as much as to entice myself as the kids). To me, it tastes like when you just have spit out your gum, and you still have minty-gum-flavor in the your mouth. Not unpleasant. I do have to say, I can’t take it on an empty stomach, so when I administer the ‘gum juice’ to everyone, its usually right after breakfast, or, if I forget, lunch. I don’t take it every day, but probably 3 times a week.
Why fermented? Simply, because its the traditional way. You don’t get nearly the same benefits, and there are even some causes for concern when the oil is not fermented, and by what process it is made. In non-fermented oil, vitamins are removed, and added back in. (Think pasteurized milk..more on that in a book review to come…)In general, and with very few exceptions, traditional food processes are healthier. You can learn more HERE.