I love carrots. They are probably the vegetables I prefer to ferment the most in addition to the purple cabbage. To ferment carrots, I prefer to take advantage of spontaneous lactic fermentation.
Lacto-fermented carrots have a series of positive aspects like few other vegetables:
- they remain crunchy even if fermented for several weeks,
- they are easy to prepare and represent an easy way to take a very high variety and quantity of lactic bacteria,
- giving us a long series of benefits for nutrition and health
- full of probiotics (read why probiotics are important for us here)
Carrot stick fermentation is an effective way to bring children closer to the consumption of fermented vegetables because they maintain a flavour and texture very similar to fresh carrots.
Choose quality vegetables
Carrots purchased at the local market still have leaves attached. The most important thing to prepare excellent Lacto-fermented vegetables is to choose an excellent starting raw material. I buy carrots at the local market, where I can select carrots that come from my area and have not had to take planes to get on the shelves. Also, buying them at the local market guarantees that the vegetables have just been harvested. A good way to choose carrots only freshly picked is to buy them only if they are still sold with the leaves (as in the photo). In addition to being of superior quality, local vegetables are sold in bulk, avoiding plastic packages that are so impactful on the environment.
By purchasing local vegetables, you help the economy of your area and reduce the environmental impact.
Now let's see the ingredients to prepare our lacto-fermented carrots. The ingredients listed are fine for about 1kg. In this recipe, I ferment the vegetables using a 3% brine.
- 3 cups water (filtered)
- 2 teaspoons salt (kosher or other non-iodized salt)
- 500gr carrots
- Garlic to taste
- 1 onion
- Chili flakes to taste
In addition to the ingredients you will need:
- a scale
- a cutting board
- a knife
- a vegetable peeler
- a container for fermenting (a jar with a lid is fine)
- Rinse and peel the carrots, remove the ends and cut them in half lengthwise. If possible, avoid washing carrots after peeling them and using sanitizing products. We try to preserve as much as possible the community of beneficial bacteria naturally present on our vegetables. If you prefer you can leave the whole vegetables or cut them as you prefer (in small pieces or sticks, for example).
- Cut the onion and peel the garlic.
- Get your clean glass jars and place them on their side. Fill them with the carrot sticks ( it is easier to get the carrots to line up straight if you start with the jar on its side rather than loading the carrots in from above!)
- Add the onions, garlic and chili flakes.
- Fill the jars with chlorine-free water. If you use a jar with a bubbler, you will not have to worry about leaving a margin. Otherwise, leave a couple of cm from the edge so that during fermentation, it does not overflow too much liquid. Make sure, however, that the carrots are completely submerged, perhaps by shortening those that come out.
- Pour the salt brine over the carrots. The brine must completely cover carrots. Cover the jars loosely with lids.
- Leave the jar at room temperature, making sure that the temperature is not too high. Ideally, the vegetables ferment best at 18-22 ° C. The first few days you will see bubbles on the surface: this means that fermentation has started.
- Once ready, the carrots can be moved in the refrigerator or a cold environment such as a cellar.
In this recipe I show you how to do carrots sticks in a certain way, enriched with onions, garlic and chili flakes. However, this is only a starting point for learning the technique. You could change the size of the cut as well as add spices or combine different ingredients to your liking. An exciting version could be with peppercorns or cumin. Another exciting way of fermenting carrots is to combine them in different colours (purple or white carrots for example). I recommend, if you decide to vary the% of salt of the recipe, you must be sure of what you are doing. Fermentation is not instinct and intuition but logic and science!
If you find interesting combinations, send me your recipe and I will publish it.
PS: because I already know many of you will ask me the difference between normal fermentation and Lacto-fermentation
Fermentation is the process that cells resort to when oxygen is lacking (anaerobiosis) and also the main way in which many microorganisms procure energy.
Different types of Fermentation:
Depending on the microorganisms involved in fermentation and their final products, we will have different types of fermentation. Which take their name from the essential substance produced at the end of the process. The two types of fermentation that interest us most are lactic fermentation and alcoholic fermentation. Then we also have the acetic fermentation. However, we will treat individually, because it is not a fermentation in the strict sense.
There are also other less known types of fermentation:
- malolactic fermentation which transforms malic acid into lactic acid (even if this is also not strictly speaking fermentation);
- propionic fermentation, responsible for the cheese eyes;
- butyric fermentation, which is a harmful process in cheese making.
The primary two I will focus on will be
- lacto fermentation which will mainly produce lactic acid, and
- alcoholic fermentation which will produce alcohol (mainly ethanol). In both fermentations, production of carbon dioxide is usually also noted.
Even within the individual lactic or alcoholic fermentation we can have results; therefore flavors, different from each other, depending on the microorganisms most present.
Lacto-Fermentation is a type of fermentation mainly affecting lactic acid bacteria (LAB - Lactic Acid Bacteria) or often also called simply lactobacteria.
Read more about Probiotics HERE.