The Best Techniques for Preserving Food at Home

 

Home Fermentation: A Starter Guide

 

There are pros and cons to each of the two methods of fermenting foods at home. You may try more than one recipe before you settle on a particular one that suits your taste. There are a variety of foods you may want to preserve, including vegetables, condiments, chutneys, dairy and fish.

The techniques vary between the different types of food. For example, vegetables require a brining process, whereas others require uncooked whey. Here are two recipes for the various types of foods you may want to preserve.

 

Brine

You’ll need a simple brine mixture composed of the following ingredients:

Fine Grain Sea Salt – 6 Tbsp.
Course Grain Sea Salt – 9 Tbsp.
8 Cups water

Stir until dissolved. You may need to heat part of the water and salt combination if you want to use it right away.

This brine is great for vegetables. Simply pour over the veggies you’ve packed in a jar. Brine for meat or cheeses will require more salt.

 

Uncooked Whey

Good for preserving helping to preserve many foods. You’ll use a recipe made from yogurt, kefir, clabber or other fermented dairy product. The process is simple.

Line a strainer with cheesecloth.  Pour one quart of the fermented dairy into the cloth and tie the ends.  Let the whey drip for a day

This will produce about 2 cups of whey. You can then store the whey in airtight jars in the refrigerator for several weeks.  If mold appears, simply scrape it off.

Freezing whey is also possible, but if frozen too long may destroy some of the valuable organisms. You’ll be using uncooked whey in many of the fermentation processes for various foods.

 

Try it! Fermented Foods You Can Easily Make

Now that you understand the value fermented foods can have in your life, you’re probably eager start making your own. Almost any type of food can be preserved using one of the methods discussed in the previous section.

Here are some foods that can be fermented to preserve the freshness and flavor and also add nutrition and health to your diet plan:

 

  • Vegetables

The fermentation of vegetables requires brine for the standard method of lactic-acid. You can ferment whole vegetables, a mixture of veggies or recipes for chutneys, salsas, sauerkraut, dips, pickles and relishes.

 The beneficial covering of the brine helps to keep out the spoiling organisms and safeguards the beneficial organisms so the fermentation process can take place safely.

You may also pound some vegetables to release brine. This is true in the case of making sauerkraut, salsas, relishes and chutneys. The mixing releases the juices of the veggies. Adding salt helps the process.

 

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  • Fruits

There is an abundance of sugar in fruits which must be taken into consideration during the fermentation process.

Preserving whole fruits, jams and chutneys requires a lactic-acid process. An alcohol method can also be used to create wines, chutneys and preserves.

Some fruit fermenting recipes call for sugar additions, but you can use sweeteners such as maple syrup, honey or stevia rather than refined sugars. Lactobacilli are the main type of friendly bacteria that help to ferment fruits, but yeasts and carbon dioxide also play a big part.

 

  • Condiments

Condiments can be the jeweled crown on a food feast. Fermenting condiments is much like fermenting vegetables and there are many easy and tasty recipes for all types of chunky or pureed condiments.

You’ll want to make sure that you use the top quality products for your condiments. Always choose organic rather than what’s been grown by chemicals or other harmful products.

After you mix the condiments and store them (per the recipe) at room temperature, they should be stored in the refrigerator. Mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and even guacamole that tastes fresh when you’re ready to eat it.

 

  • Grains

Fermenting grains can help you make some of the tastiest and most nutritious breads you’ve ever had. Sourdough (another name for grain fermenting) is much more nutritious than our modern breads and you can easily begin a “sourdough starter,” and give it as gifts as you nurture the fermentation process.

As the sourdough process continues, the fermentation gives off gases that make the dough rise, and then you can make the dough into breads, pancakes or other tasty concoctions.

The great thing about sourdough starters is that they can last for years – even hundreds of years – as long as you keep feeding it so that the bacteria can keep on working.

 

  • Beverages

You can create non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks with fermentation. Fruits and vegetables, plus natural sodas are used to get the process going and to produce amazing, “super tonic” drinks that your entire family will love.

Kombucha (also referrenced as Kambucha) — a Russian concoction that has amazing health benefits — and water kefir — a sweet soda that’s made with yeast and lactic acid producing bacteria and grains are fun to make, delicious and good for you.

Try non-alcoholic fermenting for making lemonade, coconut water and kanji (a hot and spicy beverage made with chili peppers).

Alcoholic beverages such as beer and Scottish ale can be fermented by using an ‘extract’ brewing method. When certain grains become moist, they sprout and become sweet because of the germination process that binds carbohydrates and produces simple sugars or malts to feed the sprouts.

Honey Kombucha is another great recipe of fermentation. Using a kombucha starter and wildflower honey, all you need is tea bags and water to create one of the healthiest drinks on the planet.

 

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  • Dairy Products

Non-cheese and simple cheese products can be made from the fermentation process. Yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk and cream cheese involve a process of fermentation that differs quite a bit from other methods.

You’ll need a mesophilic starter culture (middle temperature) for non-cheese products and rennet (a coagulation substance) for the simple cheese products.

You can make delicious dishes from the fermentation of dairy products such as Kefir ice cream, yogurt parfaits and more.

Today’s dairy products we purchase in the supermarket have been processed in a way which takes away much of the nutrition value. Fermenting your own dairy products ensures that the vitamins and minerals remain and that the taste is much more natural.

 

  • Beans

The fermenting process of beans greatly improves their nutritional benefits – especially soybeans and can provide some great dishes for the family.

The fermentation method for beans breaks down the complex sugars that stress the digestive system and increases the vitamin and beneficial enzymes contained in the beans.

When soy is fermented, it can be made into several dishes such as hummus, tempeh and miso. You’ll need very specific mold and bacteria cultures that you can easily purchase from online resources.

After the fermentation process is complete, turn your concoction into tasty and healthy recipes such as hummus (made from chick peas), tempeh (a fermented soybean cake) and bean paste (from black beans, pintos or red beans) and have a feast of great tasting foods.

 

  • Meats and Fish

Brined, fermented and smoked meats and fish have been staples to humans for generations. It’s a great way to preserve a substance that we need in our diets.

During the days of non-refrigeration, we had to come up with methods that could preserve the meats and fishes for as long as possible.The fermentation process you use should be safe to guard against botulism and other harmful organisms that can form from spoiled meats.

Brining the meat is one way to make it safe for consumption. Fermenting sausage by drying the meat is another way to preserve the meat.Smoking is a good and tasty way to improve on the flavor of meats and fishes.

For this, you’ll need to purchase a smoker or build your own. There are many great instructions online and in books to help you with this process.

 

When you ferment your foods, you’re creating the best possible chelator and detoxing agents. The fermenting process produces highly beneficial microbes necessary for balancing your intestinal flora so that your immune system works to its top capacity.

Besides helping the health of your gut, fermenting foods will provide benefits to your brain also. Since the gut produces serotonin (neurotransmitter), you’ll have a boost in wellbeing once your diet is enhanced with fermented foods.

 

Introducing Fermented Foods to Your Diet Plan

Hopefully, you’ve learned about the importance of adding fermented foods to your diet and how beneficial they can be to your health. And, besides the great nutritional benefits, you’ll be amazed at how your own fermented foods taste compared to the “watered down” version we get from supermarkets.

It’s so easy today to get the supplies you need to ferment your own food. The actual preparation and fermenting processes may take more time, but it’s certainly worth it when you think of all they provide.

Recipes abound for the tastiest dishes you’ll find anywhere – both online and in books. You can save money too as you enjoy all the other benefits of fermenting your own foods.

You may want to begin slowly rather than taking on some of the more complex methods of fermenting. Sauerkraut, pickles, kefir and kombucha are very inexpensive to make and the kefir and kombucha can be converted into healthy, carbonated sodas.

By returning to a clean food diet and re-introducing fermented foods into our daily nutrition plan, we can reverse a trend which influences chronic illnesses and realize a healthier and more vibrant lifestyle.

 

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