A few weeks ago I attended a workshop on fermenting vegetables, presented by Sandor Katz (organised by the always-wonderful Milkwood Permaculture).
This covered a range of different approaches to using lactic acid fermentation to preserve vegetables.
The first and simplest technique is the one that most took my fancy (it was also the one Sandor recommended the most).
It goes like this:
Start with a mix of hard vegetables, in our case:
- beetroots (red and yellow)
- daikon (white radish)
Slice them into small pieces, by hand or by food processor. With the slicer attachment of our food processor, this took mere minutes.
Put everything in a large bowl, and add salt to taste. (I tried 3% salt as a first test, but next time I’ll use a little less.)
Crush and squeeze it by hand, until as Sandor put it, “you can wring water out of a handful like you would out of a sponge”. This only took about 5mins of easy work.
Squeeze the vegetables into jars, and pack down until the water level rises above the vegetables.
Put the lids on, and then watch and wait! Because I was doing a very quick pickle, I didn’t worry too much about keeping air out (there are a heap of techniques for doing this).
Each day I checked the pickles, as well as getting Priscilla to taste test. After just 3 days, the vegetables were soft enough (and not too sour) for Priscilla’s taste. Into the fridge they go!
This is a super-simple preserving technique, and I’ll definitely be doing more of this.
Some footnotes for future reference:
- 1kg of vegetables, which made approx 1L of pickles (as Sandor had predicted)
- 3% of salt (use less next time, a bit too salty for our salt-reduced diet)
- 3 days pickling
These French breakfast radishes are super cute! Baby-sized and bright red, these are ready for the picking. They are also one of Miss P’s favourites.
We’ve got plenty of other root crops in the ground at the moment, some fast-growing but most taking their time:
- heirloom radishes (various colours)
- heirloom carrots (various colours)
- onions (various)
- spring onions
- potatoes (going in soon)
There’s something supernatural about daikon (Japanese white radish). They grow amazingly fast, and are immensely large when pulled out of the ground. They’re quick and easy to grow, and are hard to get in Australian supermarkets.
I’d have to say that the first ones we picked were an acquired taste. Miss P didn’t warm to the surprisingly bitter flavour, so I had to hide them in soups and the like. I had read that they become milder in taste during winter, and thankfully this turned out to be the case.
In a recently-acquired cookbook, I found a receipe for pickled daikon, so I gave that a go. It’s an absolute winner! Once pickled, the daikon takes on a very different flavour; sweet and fruity. Great as a side dish during a Japanese meal. We now have two jars of pickled daikon, with more plants still in the ground.