We’re celebrating gut health this week at the Co-op and our weekly sale from May 18th – 24th offers lots of gut-healthy foods to bring balance to the microbiome within! Another economical option is to try making your own probiotic veggies at home. It’s much simpler than you might think and provides a great way to preserve the harvest of seasonal veggies without the hassle of canning or blanching/freezing. This kind of pickling is different from traditional vinegar pickling in that you’re not using vinegar or heating the mixture, thus preserving the natural cultures and rich enzymes present in the vegetables. All fruits and vegetables have beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus on the surface. In an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment, these bacteria convert sugars into lactic acid, which inhibits harmful bacteria and acts as a preservative. You’ll need one special piece of equipment called a “Perfect Pickler”. This handy little gadget turns any canning jar into a lacto-fermenting machine without the much larger investment for a ceramic fermentation crock. You can find one online at perfectpickler.com and it will pay for itself after just a few batches. A quick google search of “canning jar fermentation lids” pulls up lots of similar options.
Lacto-fermented vegetables pack a healthy punch of probiotics (at a cost well below most supplements and ready-to-eat lacto-fermented foods on retail shelves) to heal and maintain a healthy gut. These beneficial microorganisms help our bodies perform myriad functions including digestion, detoxification, nutrient absorption, and immune system response. Plus, they happen to taste amazing! This particular recipe is for lacto-fermented ramps, but feel free to sub in any veggies you have in abundance. Chunky veggies do best if they are chopped up or shredded into smaller bits of relatively uniform size. Get creative with the combinations! Just remember to use non-chlorinated water and non-iodized salt. Chlorine and iodine will both deter the beautiful chemistry that must take place for successful lacto-fermentation. Instead, choose distilled water or spring water. Kosher salt makes a great option, or check out the “Real Salt” we sell in our bulk department. It’s unrefined, non-iodized, and contains over 70 minerals!