Lacto Fermentation and the Lost Art of Preserves
Let’s talk about the lost arts; things our ancestors learned by default, knew by way of necessity, the way we learn how to navigate the internet and cell phones. Nothing exposed the gaps in our knowledge of traditional ways of self-sufficiency more than the pandemic. Conditioned to buy our food at supermarkets, conditioned to believe it will always be there on the shelves waiting for us, we’ve relinquished control and the knowledge of how to feed ourselves.
Canning and jarring were staple practices in homes once upon the time, and when winter arrived,
and the ground gave nothing, there would still be peaches and pickles and eggplant to eat from mason jars. Of course, I was raised by old-school parents, so preserving food is something I grew up with. But, like so many things from childhood, it took becoming an adult to really appreciate having been raised with this art.
Canned foods are delicious, and, ideally jarred at the fruit and vegetable’s peak, nutritious. I often say that traditions must evolve, and while my mother, a Southern Italian, preserves almost everything in oil, which is tasty but also heavy, I like to lacto-ferment my vegetables. Lacto fermentation is really easy, and the result is food packed with probiotics, a vital factor in gut health, which is a vital factor in overall health. With these preserves, I can easily add fermented food to my plate at any meal.
You simply make a salt-water brine by taking four tablespoons of sea salt to a half-gallon of water, heating up some of the water and dissolving the salt. Wash and cut up your vegetables, put them into a mason jar and pour some of the cooled brine over them, being sure all the veggies are submerged. (This will make several quart-jar’s worth of veggies.) The important thing is to keep a weight at the top of the jar, so everything stays submerged. Loosely place on the lid and leave them on the counter in a shady place for about seven days. And that’s it! Feel free to email me with questions. Happy to help us all reclaim some of the lost arts of our ancestors, one mason jar at a time.