Preserving the Harvest :: Lacto-Fermention + A Sauerruben Recipe!

Hello!

We love fermenting here at Tant Hill Farm so figured it was time to share our tips and tricks to help you lacto-ferment at home. Lacto-fermentation happens when food is submerged in a salty brine and left to sit at room temperature for days, weeks or even months. A specific species of bacteria, Lactobacillus, converts sugars to lactic acid. This process not only preserves food but it also makes it more nutritious and digestible.

There is a lot to learn and we know it can seem overwhelming but it really boils down to the crucial steps listed below. Of course there is more to this – which type of container to use, how to flavor it, etc, but you need to understand these steps first. After reviewing the crucial steps, you will have a greater understanding of the sauerruben recipe below. We hope you enjoy it!

Crucial Steps for Successful Lacto-Fermenting at Home

  • Salt: 
    • Salt is crucial because it both draws liquid from the vegetable, creating its own brine, and also creates an atmosphere where only healthy bacteria can thrive.
      • Amount: most resources recommend using 2% – 5% salt of the fermented vegetables weight. That means trim, peel and cut your vegetables before weighing them and THEN calculate the amount of salt you need. I typically use about 3.5% salt and have had great results (I use sea salt). I would highly suggest investing in a digital scale to make this step easy.
      • Type: do a quick online search and you will find different opinions on whether the type of salt you use makes a difference of not. It comes down to the amount of sodium in your salt, and luckily, it is printed in the nutrition section on the box. Table salt typically has 580mg in 1/4 teaspoon and sea salt has 440mg in 1/4 teaspoon. So, given that I typically measure my salt using a teaspoon or tablespoon, if you use table salt, it will result in a saltier (and sometimes too salty) end product. In the end, I recommend looking at the sodium content on your salt box and if you have a choice, use the salt with the lower amount.
  • Submerge:
    • Lacto-fermentation is an anaerobic process, meaning it happens in the absence of air. That is why it is so important to have all vegetables submerged under the brine and all air-pockets removed. You will often see recipes that state you should add the vegetables a little at a time, pounding them down between each addition. This helps to ensure there are no air pockets remaining. You can also tap the finished ferment on the counter lightly or use a long skewer to remove any trapped air bubbles. There are all sorts of gadgets on the market to help – we love using the Kraut Source but you can use just about anything. It can be as simple as filling a plastic bag with brine and setting it on top to keep the vegetables submerged.
  • Time & Temperature:
    • Time and temperature work hand in hand. You can ferment anywhere between 55°F and 80°F. The lower the temperature, the slower the fermentation and conversely, the higher the temperature, the faster the fermentation. This also affects the flavor – slow fermentations typically have more complex, nuanced flavor whereas fast fermentations can have more intense flavors with a higher chance for off-flavors. There is a useful rule of thumb that states for every 10°C rise in temperature, the rate of reaction doubles. As an example, if it is 10°C (or about 18°F) hotter in your kitchen, expect your fermentation to finish in half the time. In the end, tasting your fermentation every day is the only way to know how it is progressing.

Kohlrabi Sauerruben
makes about 1 cup

Recipe note: traditional sauerruben is made with turnips but I added kohlrabi for an interesting twist.

Ingredients:

  • 15 ounces combined salad turnips and kohlrabi
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 bay leaf

Directions:

  • Trim the salad turnips and peel the kohlrabi. Grate on the large holes of a box grater. I had 8 ounces of grated salad turnips and 4 ounces of grated kohlrabi. The breakdown isn’t as important as the total amount as this determines the amount of salt.
  • Add the grated vegetables and salt to a medium mixing bowl and mix well to combine. Allow to sit for 10 minutes or so to extract the water from the vegetables. You can use any type of fermenting vessel but a pint sized glass canning jar works great here. Add the vegetables a little at a time, pounding them down with the back of a spoon between each addition. There should be enough liquid to cover the vegetables. Add the bay leaf and submerge the vegetables below the brine. If you aren’t using a device that covers the top, cover with cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. Allow to ferment as desired. I find that I like my ferments after a week or so. Once it is to your liking, cover with a lid and transfer to the refrigerator. I have kept ferments for months and months in the refrigerator but this probably won’t last that long.

Collard Greens Relish

Hello,

If you have run out of time and/or ideas for your collard greens, give this recipe a try. It couldn’t be easier – just chop a few things and throw all ingredients into a saucepan. It takes a while to cook the greens but most of that time is hands-0ff. Plus, sugar and vinegar are great preserving mediums so you can keep this on hand for a while, making it perfect for last minute guests or to bring to a party.

I have only tried this straight so far but I can imagine it would go well with many different dishes. Slathered on cornbread, with crackers and cheese, tossed with rice and beans – anything that needs a sweet and tangy punch of flavor.

Enjoy!

Collard Greens Relish (adapted from here)
makes about 1 cup 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound collard greens, stems removed and thinly sliced, leaves chopped into 3/4″ pieces
  • 6 medium scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded (or half of seeds removed for spicier relish) and minced OR 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup sorghum syrup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground clove
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 cups water

Directions:

  • Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan, cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until collards are tender, about 40 minutes. Remove lid and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until a small amount of syrupy liquid remains, about 20 minutes longer. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Transfer to an air tight container and store in the refrigerator for 2-4 weeks.

Easy Kale Salad with Russian Dressing

Hi!

Here is a kale salad that is tasty, quick to prepare and can be kept in the refrigerator for days without wilting (you can’t say that about many dressed salads!). It is flavorful enough to eat on its own or you can add any number of items – tofu, beans, hard boiled eggs, cheese, more veggies – and make it the base to a full meal. Check out our Essentials for a Satisfying Salad post for more ideas.

Enjoy!

Easy Kale Salad with Russian Dressing
makes about 4 side dish servings or 2 main dish servings

Recipe note: 1) I would consider this a lightly dressed salad. I think it is just enough to evenly coat the greens and add flavor without weighing them down. Increase the dressing ingredients by 50% if you like a lot of dressing or are planning to add more ingredients; 2) I used a mix of sweet pickle and pickled garlic juice but I think just about any pickle or fermented vegetable juice could work well – add a little at a time and taste as you go; 3) if you don’t have scallions, use finely chopped shallot, onion or a little minced garlic; 4) this was adapted from the Maximum Flavor cookbook.

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces (about 30 small leaves) of Toscano kale, destemmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 2 tablespoons mayo
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons pickle juice (see recipe note)
  • 1 scallion, white and light green parts, finely chopped (see recipe note)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried horseradish or fresh horseradish to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  • Add the kale and carrots to a medium mixing bowl.
  • Whisk the remaining ingredients together in a small mixing bowl until combined. Dip a piece of kale into the mix and taste for seasoning. Adjust as needed.
  • Pour the dressing over the kale and massage the greens for about a minute, or until they are slightly wilted and softened. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

Triple Sesame Noodles with Pak Choi

Hey hey!

At a loss for how to use your pak choi? Give this easy, delicious recipe a try. I made it super simple by just using pak choi but you could beef it up with other veggies or protein (steamed carrots and cubed tofu come to mind). We hope you like it!

Triple Sesame Noodles with Pak Choi
makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 large head of pak choi
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Directions:

  • Cook spaghetti according to package instructions. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Transfer to a large container, toss with sesame seed oil and set aside.
  • Slice off the root end of the pak choi and separate the leaves from the stalks. Slice both the leaves and the stalks about 1/2″ thick and clean thoroughly. Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high in a 12″ non-stick skillet until just smoking. Add the stalks and cook until the first side has started to brown, about 1-2 minutes. Stir and allow the other side to cook through and start to brown, another minute or two. Add the leaves and cook until wilted, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a colander if there appears to be some liquid in the pan. Then transfer to the bowl with the spaghetti.
  • Whisk the tahini, soy sauce, water, honey and garlic in a small mixing bowl until completely combined. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Pour over the noodles and pak choi and toss to combine. Transfer to individual serving bowls and top with the toasted sesame seeds.