Nourished Kitchen’s Preserving Summer’s Bounty Challenge #1: Preserving Through Fermentation

by Chrystal Johnson on September 3, 2010

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One of my absolute favorite blogs is Nourished Kitchen. I only discovered it a few months ago and I just can’t get enough. My family has been on a mission to clean up our eating habits and eat as much local, organically grown, whole food that we can get access to.

Now that we’re living up in the mountains, we will have to prepare for winter. That means having enough food on hand to last us at least a week in case we’re snowed in. And I’m not big on the idea of eating a bunch of store bought, processed canned food packaged in BPA lined cans.

So I was really excited when Jenny at Nourished Kitchen started her Preserving Summer’s Bounty Challenge. Over the course of 5 weeks, Jenny has sent out 5 lessons on naturally preserving fruits and vegetables without pressure canners (no electricity needed). These methods are the same ones used by our ancestors to preserve food and they optimize the nutrition of the foods that are being preserved—a great bonus!

The 5 preservation methods covered are:

  1. Preserving through fermentation
  2. Preserving with vinegar
  3. Preserving with oil
  4. Preserving in alcohol
  5. Preserving through sun drying and dehydration

The challenge started at the beginning of August, so I’m a little behind schedule with blogging about it. We got settled back in the States too late to start a garden this year, so I’ve had to use the local markets to try out these techniques. Hopefully next year we can use them to preserve a lot of homegrown produce.

I’ll be posting about each of the methods separately so I can share a little bit about the process I went through and post pictures. Today, I’ll be sharing what I preserved through fermentation.

Read more about the lactic acid fermentation challenge here.

I was really excited about this challenge as fermented foods have great probiotic properties—something we all need more of in our diet.

Fermented Sauerkraut
The first thing I fermented was a head of purple cabbage that I had in my fridge that needed to be used up. I have never really eaten sauerkraut, but Brian really likes it so I thought we would give it a try.

It’s actually really easy to make using this traditional method. All you do is:

  1. Finely shred the cabbage
  2. Then using a mason jar (since that’s all we have—the preferred method is using a fermenting crock), pack a layer of shredded cabbage in the jar
  3. Sprinkle some unrefined sea salt over the layer
  4. Pound the cabbage until it releases its juices
  5. Repeat until the jar is full (the liquid should be covering the cabbage completely)

Wait about a week or so and you have fermented sauerkraut. Read more about making fermented sauerkraut here.

I got Brian’s help on this one. He did a much better job of pounding the cabbage than I did. Here’s a picture of our purple cabbage fermented sauerkraut:

Fermented Sauerkraut

We still haven’t tasted it, but I’ll be sure to give you an update when we do.

Fermented Sour Pickles
After I finished up with the sauerkraut, I decided to make some sour pickles through fermentation. This method doesn’t use vinegar so I was really curious how it would work. I followed Jenny’s recipe, but used slices instead of whole cucumbers.

Here’s a picture of the final product:

Fermented Sour Pickles

When I tasted them yesterday, they still weren’t quite done, so I’ll let you know how they turn out as soon as they’re done!

I’m excited to continue experimenting with fermentation. I think the next recipe I’ll try out is Kimchi, which is covered in a great cookbook I own that goes along really well with this challenge—Nourishing Traditions.

My next book purchase for the kitchen, along these same lines, will be Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods.

Have you ever used fermentation as a method to preserve foods? If so, what are your favorite vegetables to ferment?

About Chrystal Johnson

Chrystal, publisher of Happy Mothering, is a mother of two sweet girls who believes in living a simple, natural lifestyle. A former marketing manager, Chrystal spends her time researching green and eco-friendly alternatives to improve her family's life. She enjoys sharing those discoveries with anyone who's willing to listen.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lynda Lowery October 18, 2012 at 9:49 am

Just packed my first sauerkraut ever in a clean retail ‘organic’ sauerkraut jar/lid. So, am I understanding that the fermentation is done in a less sealed container and THEN transferred into such a glass jar/lid? Wouldn’t it be wise to place it into a plastic bag in case it explodes while fermenting? Can I ferment within the jar or should I just weight it down and seal with plastic and a rubber band? I also thought the proper timing is six weeks, not less.

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2 Chrystal October 18, 2012 at 10:48 am

You can really do it either way. I’d love to have a fermentation crock. I have never had a problem with anything exploding. Bubbling over? Yes, but I always keep a towel under my jars when I’m fermenting. Timing depends on a lot of factors like temperature, altitude, the bacteria in the environment, etc. I’m not sure about plastic, but you can use a tightly woven cloth like in my Kombucha post here:http://www.happy-mothering.com/10/household/recipes/brewing-your-own-homemade-kombucha-part-1/

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