In the northern hemisphere tis the season for stocking up the larder for winter. Our forager James has been filling his cupboards with surplus veg from the garden. Last time it was pickling and this time it is fermenting.
Vegetables are covered in the bacteria lactobacillus, when the vegetables are sliced up and covered in salt, they release their juice. The juice mingles with the salt to create a brine. The lactobacillus multiplies and begins to break down, digesting the natural sugars, digesting and transforming them into lactic acid. That creates the tangy flavour and a sour environment that keeps the growth of other less desirable bacteria at bay. It’s really not as difficult as you may think, the veg will do the hard work, and in this case we’re using beetroot.
6-8 beetroots, approx. 700g, peeled and shredded
1-2 inch piece of fresh ginger thinly sliced, few cloves of garlic or other herbs you wish to add
19g of sea salt (or 2% – 3% of weight of fresh beetroots)
– Sterilise a 1 litre glass jar with a wide top. To sterilise place in the oven at 180ºC for 20 minutes.
– In a large bowl sprinkle the shredded beetroot with the sea salt.
– With clean hands, massage the salt into the beetroot for a minute or two.
– Rest for at least an hour or overnight if you can, to allow the salt to draw out the liquid.
– Add the ginger, garlic or whatever you go for.
– Start filling your fermenting jar with the beetroot mixture, top with all the juice. Push it all in there! Run a knife around the edges of the jar to allow air to escape.
Fill the jar to to the shoulder.
– Now you want to weigh down the beetroots – use whatever you have to hand that fits inside your jar, weights, gin bottle, jam jar…be imaginative.
Fermenting like this is an anaerobic (without oxygen) reaction so you want the liquid to cover the beetroots and for them to be held down in there. Place in a pantry or dark corner for 1-4 weeks. But not the fridge, that is too cold. Keep an eye on progress. The longer it ferments, the better it will taste!
James recommends having it on an oatcake with cream cheese for lunch.
>> Catch our simple pickling recipe here