During the pandemic, we saw a huge resurgence of interest in fermenting homegrown vegetables. Many of our customers have used the lockdown periods to grow their own fruits and vegetables at home, whether they have had space for a windowsill pot or two, or the scope to create an entirely productive food garden!
Stocking up on fermenting jars
And now of course, all of that lovely produce is beginning to ripen and many of us are facing a glut! The good news is that Wares of Knutsford can help, with our large range of fermenting jars, such as the Mason fermenting jar with a screwtop style lid, and the Kilnclip and Le Parfait jars if you prefer a clip top.
What is fermentation?
It's the process that helps you to make wine, preserve fruits and vegetables and create accompaniments such as sauerkraut, which are packed with beneficial bacteria. The process works when there is a lack of oxygen in the presence of an active microorganism, or 'bio-digester'. This breaks down glucose and carbohydrates into alcohol and acids. The resulting production makes the original ingredient even more nutritious whilst protecting it from spoiling for prolonged periods of time.
Fermented food is usually packed with valuable probiotics which help the immune system and support gut health, whilst neutralising anti-nutrients, such as phytic acid. Phytic acid is found in various plant foods and it can lead to nutrient deficiencies in the human body. By combining foods that contain phytic acids - such as legumes and grains - with fermented food, balance is achieved and the resulting dish is healthier than ever.
The different methods of fermenting
Fermenting has actually been around since the neolithic age, even before people understood the scientific processes behind this method of preservation. Today there are three main approaches that are popular; lactic acid, ethanol and acetic acid fermentation.
Lactic acid fermentation is used to make yoghurt, kimchi, sourdough loaves and pickles, and it can be used for fermenting organic vegetables, using traditional European recipes for dishes such as raw sauerkraut (see our recipe below.)
Ethanol, or alcohol, fermenting is used to produce beer and wine. It's one of the most commonly used methods around the world - for obvious reasons - and it uses yeasts to break down sugar and starch molecules into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
Last but not least, acetic acid fermentation is used to ferment fruit and grains to make apple cider vinegar and kombucha.
An easy fermentation method to try
Raw cabbage - preferably organic - can be combined with salt to make delicious sauerkraut. This goes brilliantly with sausages and mustard, and it makes the ideal dish for autumn. Now is the time to start making sauerkraut to stock up your pantry for the colder months ahead.
Simply chop up your cabbage into small pieces using a sterilised knife and cutting surface. Then add it into a large mixing bowl - again which has been sterilised with boiling water. This is important because you don't want to add any unwanted bacteria into your ferment. For 2kg of cabbage, add approximately 5 tbsp of sea salt. Massage the cabbage and salt with clean hands. You will notice that it starts to reduce and break down, creating a rich brine in the process. Once the cabbage has been thoroughly broken down and can be covered with the resulting brine, add any extras that you fancy, such as peppercorns and caraway seeds.
Then, add the mix to your sterilised fermenting jar, and press it down using weights or a lid, so that the cabbage is underneath the brine. This ensures that the cabbage will ferment without any mould building up. If you are using a specialist Mason fermentation jar, then simply lift the lid every day or so to release the build-up of gases. Some ferments that have been left to bubble for too long have been known to explode! Keep it in a cool place, away from direct sunlight.
The sauerkraut will be ready in around 5 days and you can taste it periodically to get a sense as to how it is developing. Once you are happy with it, you can let the flavours build for up to 6 weeks, when the bubbling stops. From this point, it will store for prolonged periods of time in its fermentation jar until you're ready to add spoonfuls to your dishes. Delicious!
The Wares of Knutsford difference
Our team takes absolute pride in serving our customers with the finest products at the best prices - and with superb customer service at all times. Please contact us with any queries that you might have and we will be delighted to help. Sign up to our newsletter for all the latest news, products and competitions - we are constantly adding to our product range to keep up with customer demand.