With winter entering full swing, techniques to make those winter vegetables more exciting are emerging!
Fermentation is a technique that has been used universally for hundreds of years. We are really excited to be using it for our Winter menu. Initially it was used as a preservation technique and has now become a common delicacy in many countries. The two most popular are Sauerkraut and Kimchi. For a variety of cultures, fermentation has been used as a technique to create unique flavours and dishes that represent their culture (Source: Food and Nutrition). For example in India, their famous chutneys are created through this process, and who doesn’t love those! The fantastic thing about it is that it's a great way to make your vegetables last longer, and of course helps reduce food waste.
An added bonus is that through preserving the vegetable, the nutritional value isn’t reduced, but rather increased! This is because, through fermentation, the starch in vegetables is converted into lactic acid and enhances the natural bacteria. These types of bacteria are commonly known as probiotics and are fantastic for gut/digestive health, through helping with absorption and assimilation of nutrients. To top it off they also play a role in our immune system too! More information on BBC Health.
Although traditionally it is done with cabbage, you can ferment any vegetable you want. We use two different techniques, but whichever you use, leave the vegetables for 3 weeks for optimal results. In reality though, even leaving it for a few days you will still get some fermentation and acidity added to the vegetable.
The first technique is the traditional technique, whereby you cut the vegetables up, mix with salt and put in a sealed container to enable it to ferment. The second technique is by introducing an ingredient that has already been fermented. We use tamari sauce, which enables us to create vegan kimchi and is delicious! If you really want to be adventurous you could even add flavours to your vegetables like juniper berries or cumin seeds. Nevertheless ensure that whatever you store the vegetables in, is sterilised and is air-tight. Lastly, it doesn’t matter whether you store it in the refrigerator or room temperature, other than the fact that at room temperature the fermentation process occurs faster.
Tempted? Why not give it a go using one of our recipes!
600g of any of the following: Turnip, Swede, Carrots (any colour), Kohlrabi, Beetroot (any colour), Celeriac, Jerusalem Artichokes, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage (any colour), Chard (any colour), Cavalo Nero, Celery, Garlic, Onion, Leek.
1 tbsp of coarse Salt
Optional: 10g Aromatics (fresh or dried herbs, juniper berries, caraway seeds)
Thoroughly wash a large tub or bowl, then rinse with boiling water from the kettle. Make sure that your hands, and everything else coming into contact with the cabbage, are very clean. It’s wise to use a container that will comfortably fit the softened cabbage, allowing several inches of room at the top to avoid overflow.
Wash vegetables, soak them in water, vinegar and/or baking soda for ten minutes. Shave or peel off parts of their skin which are too damaged, rough or hard.
Cut the vegetables
Vegetables like Turnip/SwedeCarrots - cut into short thin strips
Cauliflower - small pieces (include stem)
Brussel Sprouts/Celery/Leek - chip into thin slices
Chard/Cavalo Nero - pick the leaf off the central spine, chop separately. The spine will need to be chopped thinner than the leaf
Massage salt into vegetables for 5 mins, wait 5 mins, then repeat. You should end up with a much-reduced volume of vegetable sitting in its own brine.
Mix in the aromatics (optional)
Cover the surface of the vegetables entirely with a sheet of cling film or baking paper, then press out all the air bubbles trapped below.
Weigh the cabbage down using a couple of heavy plates, or other weights that fit your bowl, and cover as much of the cabbage as possible. The level of the brine should rise to cover the cabbage.
Cover the tub with its lid (or more cling film) and leave in a dark place at a cool room temperature (about 18-20C) for at least 5 days. It will be ready to eat after 5 days, but for maximum flavour leave the cabbage to ferment for anywhere between 2-6 weeks.
Check the cabbage every so often, releasing any gases that have built up as it ferments, and give the cabbage a stir to release the bubbles. If any scum forms, remove it, rinse the weights in boiling water and replace the cling film. You should see bubbles appearing within the cabbage, and possibly some foam on the top of the brine. It’s important to keep it at an even, cool room temperature – too cool and the ferment will take longer than you’d like, too warm and the sauerkraut may become mouldy or ferment too quickly.
The cabbage will become increasingly sour the longer it’s fermented, so taste it now and again. When you like the flavour, transfer it to smaller sterilised jars and keep it in the fridge for up to 6 months.
For Kimchi add or select:
4 tbsp of rice/ corn/ buckwheat flour
400ml water (to cook the rice flour)
8 garlic cloves
1 Onion or 1/2 medium-size Leek (or half the quantity of both)
50ml of Fish Sauce/ Tamari Sauce
2 tbsp of Chilli Powder/ Cayenne Pepper
3 tbsp Sesame oil/ Toasted Sesame oil
1 tbsp of Rice or Cider Vinegar
Prepare the vegetables the same way for the Sauerkraut from washing, soaking to grating or chopping.
Bring the water to a gentle simmer with the flour. Keep stirring for a few minutes: it will thicken and start bubbling. Keep simmering until it becomes an opaque porridge, add the Chilli/ Cayenne powder, incorporate and take off the heat.
When it is just warm, add the fish/ Tamari sauce, lime zest and juice, vinegar, oil. Combine this mix with the prepared shredded veg.
Put into a sterilised, sealed, non-metallic container and press down to pack it in.
Can be eaten fresh or after a couple of days of fermentation in a cool room.
Can be kept in the fridge for about a month.
Let's tackle food waste one fermented vegetable at a time!