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MORAN: The art of fermentation and the magic of salt

June 07, 2017 - 1:15 PM

 


OPINION


In the B.C., and especially the north, there is a limited growing season. This is exasperated by the extended winter and flooded fields that we are currently managing. Before the time of supermarkets and refrigeration the only source of green and leafy vegetable nutrients aside from what keeps in the root cellar were fermented vegetables. The best-known examples of modern ferments are kimchi and sauerkraut.

The only step in turning plain, fresh vegetables into briny fermented goodness is the addition of salt. Whole vegetables can be dropped into a 2 per cent salt water solution and left to sit for two or three weeks until the water transforms into a natural brine from the yeast and microbes on the vegetables and in the air. Shredded vegetables can be salted and left to sit for thirty minutes. After they have sat, the salt will naturally pull enough water from the leaves to immerse themselves and it will be at peak flavour in two weeks.

A well-stored ferment (in the dark at room temperature) can be kept for years. The famous explorer Captain Cook kept a ferment going for 27 months at sea. These foods are not just rich in the regular vegetable nutrients, but the collection of microbes will balance our gut and protect us from all types of ailments. This is one way us humans have looked after ourselves for thousands of years that has only been lost in the past few generations.

The person who taught me the most about fermentation of all kinds is Dan from the Kelowna Farmers and Crafters Market. He runs a booth on Wednesdays and Saturdays called Wild Fermentation, and also teaches classes from home. The most recent and mind-blowing creation I have had is his inoculated cashew butter that ferments and becomes similar to a common soft herb and garlic cheese, except it is vegan, delicious, and loaded with nurturing live cultures.

For people who are serious about healthy food and eating local year-round, especially in the deep dark parts of winter, fermented foods are the only way to go.

Check out my Facebook page Everything Wild to stay up to date on our local foraging scene.

Turmeric sauerkraut
Turmeric sauerkraut

— Scott Moran is a local forager discovering his own path to food freedom


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