I have a confession: As much as I enjoy gardening (and I really do!), the kitchen magic that ensues post-harvest – cooking meals straight from the garden, drying herbs for salt blends that become holiday gifts, making hot sauce, and of course, canning, pickling, and making preserves – well, that really lights me up! I feel such immense joy when gazing at a line of jars, still warm from the water bath, cooling atop a clean dish cloth. It brings me back to my childhood when my dad and grandmother would spend the entire day together canning spiced peaches that we’d enjoy with a scoop of ice cream all year long.
This nostalgia motivates me to do my own canning and preserving but the truth is that in my busy life, I’m lucky to dedicate 1 or 2 full days each summer to a canning project. What does work for me though, and equally fills my cup, is making small-batch ferments and pickles with that day’s garden haul. In just 30 minutes, several pint and quart jars, filled with an assortment of veggies, are already undergoing fermentation.
Lacto-fermentation is a specific fermentation method that requires nothing more than salt, water, and vegetables. The term “|acto” refers to lactic acid that is produced upon the breakdown of sugar in an oxygen-free environment. So, when the veggies go into a salty brine, the good bacteria thrive and growth of bad bacteria is inhibited by the salt’s low pH. Cultured foods have the presence of gut-healing probiotics (good bacteria) that you can’t get with regular ol’ pickled vegetables which means there’s an added health benefit to these ferments.
The sky’s the limit with small-batch ferments! Ginger carrots, kimchi, sauerkraut, spiced beets, and curry cauliflower are among my favorites. I recently harvested a basket of green beans from my garden and made a quick batch of fermented dilly beans incorporating garlic that we pulled last month and dill from my neighbor’s garden. They took less than 10 minutes to make and in about 2 weeks will be ready to devour!
Fermented Dilly Beans:
- Enough green beans to fill a quart jar, ends trimmed
- 6-8 sprigs fresh dill
- 4 garlic cloves, slice or keep whole
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 chili pepper (optional)
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 quart water
- Pack trimmed green beans, garlic, chili pepper, and dill into clean fermentation or Ball jar.
- Dissolve kosher salt in 1 quart of water to make a brine.
- Place a fermentation weight atop your green beans, and pour in brine. Beans should be fully submerged when weighted.
- Let ferment at room temperature for 1-2 weeks
- Swap fermentation lid with regular lid and transfer to the refrigerator. Fermented green beans keep in the fridge for up to 2 months.
Fifth Season is your source for everything you need to make your own small-batch ferments at home. This includes canning jars, pickle jars, fermentation kits, airlocks, books, recipes and more! We want to see what you’re fermenting so be sure to tag us on Instagram or Facebook!
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