Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Traditional Table Tuesday: Lacto-fermentation and my new favorite condiment

I'd like to introduce you all to my new favorite condiment... drumroll, please... Ginger Carrots, a.k.a. Pickled Ginger Carrots or Lacto-fermented Ginger Carrots. As strange as they sound, they are amazing, and really easy to make. You must try these!

I was inspired to make these carrots by reading Nourishing Traditions' explanation of the benefits of lacto-fermented vegetables, long a staple in many societies because the lactobacilli produced in this method of fermentation serve not only to preserve veggies, but also makes them more beneficial to the health of those who consume them. The lacto-fermented vegetable most people are familiar with is sauerkraut, although much of what we find canned or jarred nowadays lacks the beneficial lactobacilli that homemade sauerkraut contains because industrial processes kill it off. Lactobacilli and the lactic acid they produce help to promote healthy intestinal flora, much like the good bacteria we are familiar with in yogurt.

I thought I'd try these carrots after I wasn't much a fan of the sauerkraut I made. (The family loved the kraut, though I did not. Gabriel will enthusiastically eat a PBJ sandwich and sauerkraut--on the side, not on the sandwich--for lunch! Peter likes my lacto-fermented beets better than the sauerkraut, due to texture issues. Guess he's not the only baby like this!)

Here's the recipe, with some of my own notes added, based on that from Nourishing Traditions. These are a delicious accompaniment to so many things, including, but not limited to: Black Beans and Rice, Thai Coconut Fish Soup, Hummus and Avocado Sandwiches, the above-pictured "Garden Pitas" (layered with hummus, carrots, beets, and feta), Red Lentil soups and dals, Spinach & Cranberry salad, and other rich or spicy foods.

Ginger Carrots

4 cups grated carrots, very tightly packed
1 T. freshly grated ginger (use less if you're not sure you're a big ginger fan--it's strong)
1 T. sea salt
4 T. whey (if not available, use an additional 1 T. salt, although know it might be a bit salty for your taste--you can get whey by draining yogurt or buttermilk through cheesecloth, or, join a milk co-op like me and order a quart of it. Hey, if anyone is really excited about making this, I'll order you some whey myself!)

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl or pot. Pound with a wooden pounder or meat hammer until the carrots release their juices, maybe about 10 minutes. Place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar and press down firmly so that the juices cover the carrots. The top of the carrots should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar (they expand!). Cover tightly and leave at room temperature about 3 days before transferring to cold storage (the top shelf of your fridge).


Jaclyn said...

Order me some whey! You must have read my mind...were you in my house the other day listening to me think about fermenting veggies!?!?? :-) Really, what co-op are you on? Our dairy doesn't have whey alone. I don't mind draining it though b/c the sour cream can be used for things too. Although, I'm going dairy free so might not use it that much. But it is fermented...I digress...we should chat. :-)

Carla said...

Sure, I'll get you some whey. It keeps! Then we'll be forced to get together and I can tell you about our co-op. They're slightly secretive...