Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lacto-fermented dilly beans

What is lacto fermenting?

Well, according to Wikipedia, Lactic acid fermentation is a biological process by which sugars such as glucose, fructose, and sucrose, are converted into cellular energy and the metabolic byproduct lactate. It is an anaerobic fermentation reaction that occurs in some bacteria and animal cells, such as muscle cells, in the absence of oxygen.

Lactobacillus is the most common bacteria used to make commercially cultured food, and is the also produced through lactic acid fermentation.  The most common fermented foods you have probably eaten are yogurt and sauerkraut. However, there are many other types of bacteria that are involved in culturing food.

Part of the reason lacto-fermenting works to keep vegetables is when the fermenting is taking place the pH changes and the food becomes more acidic preventing and even killing harmful bacteria.

Cultured foods are also super good for you! They add enzymes (made by the bacteria) and probiotics to your diet and make the food you are eating easier to digest. They also save you money on probiotics and keep your food from going to waste. Plus they taste good. It's really a win win situation. If you haven't cultured your own food yet I suggest you try it, especially now in the warm weather. Having a warm kitchen will give you the best results.

Other benefits of probiotics:

  • Supports your immune system
  • Helps eliminate waste/harmful bacteria
  • assistance in producing vitamin B and K (formed in the gut)
  • help digesting complex carbs
  • Lowers the incidence of allergies
  • Inhibits candida yeast growth
  • helps with digestive issues

How do you know if your culture went bad/ or didn't work? Generally by taste/smell. I haven't had anything I cultured go bad yet, which is making me feel safer to experiment more. Basically if it smells bad don't eat it is the rule of thumb. If it gets moldy it also didn't turn out right. However if you don't have a proper closure on your fermented food it can get a layer of mold on the top. Sauerkraut traditionally fermented for long periods of time, does tend to get a layer of mold on top that is then removed. However, with things more liquid like pickles/ dilly beans I do not think I would still consume it if it had a layer of mold on the top. But if you do it right you should not get any mold.

Mold on the top is different from a thin film. Cultured foods do get film on the top sometimes. This wont effect the finished product but from what I have read if your product is doing this just scrape it off each day.
Lacto-fermented Dilly Beans

You need

1 quart jar
1-2 T Sea Salt
3 Tablespoons Whey (optional)
Green Beans, enough to fill the jar
1 T dill fresh or dried, use more if fresh
2 cloves of garlic, chopped into pieces (or more to taste)
filtered water (must be filtered! Chlorine inhibits the growth of bacteria)

you can add other herbs/spices to taste as well. Hot peppers would be good.

1. Slice your green beans into jar sized pieces. Leave them big or small. Put them in the jar.

2. In another container mix whey, 1 tablespoon Sea salt, or use two tablespoons salt if not using whey. You will get better results with whey as it is a starter culture. Add 1 cup or so of filtered water and stir to mostly dissolve the sea salt.

3. Add dill and garlic to green beans in the jar.

4. Poor salt water over beans. Add more filtered water to fill jar but leave an inch of room at the top (important for expanding fermentation).

5. Put lid on jar and shake around a bit to get all mixed up. Leave on your counter, at room temp, for several days. I put mine out for three days then put in the fridge, thought that wasn't long enough, them took them back out and on the counter to ferment more. I then looked up more recipes and saw that a lot people fermented dilly beans for 2 weeks! So, leave them out between 3 days and two weeks. Taste every so often to see when they are ready. They should still be crunchy and when you take the lid off you will see bubbles rise to the surface.

TIP: Your beans need to stay under the water to not get moldy. If they float to the top what you can do is take a plastic baggie, fill it with salt water brine and put it in the jar to weight the beans down. This will keep everything under water. You wont need a lid on them if you do that, but may want to cover with a towel to ensure bugs and such stay out.

Once your beans are done put them in your fridge or cellar. They will keep for about 6 months! Note that this recipe also works well for carrot sticks too. You can ferment all kinds of things. More recipes to come!

This post part of traditional tuesdays blog hop hosted by

This post also linked to Kelly the kitchen Kop Real food Wednesday

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