May 27, 2013

Lacto-Fermented Dilly Carrots

Lacto-fermenting sounds like a stinky, maybe scary endeavor.  Let me assure you that it is easy and very yummy.  It's a time-honored way to preserve food (think: sauerkraut the way your great-grandma used to make it.)  More than food preservation, it is a way to introduce billions of friendly bacteria to your gut.  In our sterilized, hand-sanitized world, believe me when I say you need more bacteria in your belly. 

This recipe is a sneaky way to get it in the tummies of your most picky eaters.

It doesn't look weird.  It's just carrots.  They taste a bit pickled.  And another beauty of lacto-fermented foods is that you don't have to eat a whole jar to get the benefits.  Just a couple tablespoons will do a lot of good.
Because I knew we would eat them at a rapid rate, I made a giant batch.  However, if you're not certain that your crew will devour them, you can do a small jar.  Just adjust the ratios.  You can hardly mess it up.  I promise.

I bought a 5 pound bag of organic carrots and shredded them in my food processor.  However, if you wanted to shred enough for a pint jar, you could do the shredding by hand.

Because I like garlic, I added a few cloves (and shredded radishes from my FarmShare) but you could omit either or both.  Then I sprinkled enough dried dill into the carrots so that I could see it.  I wanted to be able to taste the dill.  Next you want to sprinkle sea salt into the mixture - about 1 tablespoon per quart.
The salt will pull out some moisture but you will probably need to add more water. (Be sure it is de-chlorinated water, so that the chlorine doesn't kill our friendly bacteria.)

The last step was adding 1 T whey per quart.  Whey seems to trip up people who haven't stepped into lacto-fermenting.  "Where do I get it?" they ask.  Well, since you asked...  you know that liquid that seems to sit in a pool once you've scooped out some yogurt?  That's whey.  You could drain more whey from yogurt using a coffee filter or cheese cloth.  For the visual learners, watch this one minute youtube video.  Let me recommend using non-flavored yogurt. :)  Since I have a bunch of jars of lacto-fermented things in my fridge, I usually just mooch a little starter liquid from something else.

Once everything is in your air-tight jar, let it sit on your counter for 3-5 days depending on the temperature of your kitchen.  The warmer it is the faster the magic happens.  You can taste after 3 days to see if you like it.  Then refrigerate.

What do to with these lacto-fermented carrots?

-Sprinkle on a green salad.
-Use in brown rice salad or a pasta salad.
-Hide them in chicken salad.
-Eat them as is.  Delish.

The sky is the limit, really.

PS - because carrots have a higher sugar content, they will turn to alcohol after a few months.  They do not keep in the fridge as long as sauerkraut (about a year!).  But these carrots will keep for a couple months at least.

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