Sunday, September 28, 2008

Peter Piper..

..picked a peck of lacto-fermented peppers.

At least, we did.
But geez, here I go with my clarifiers: I don't really know if we picked a PECK, as I'm not sure how much that is. A bushel? A half-bushel? I don't know. Please don't think I'm lying, okay? I don't mean to.
I planted six each of an interesting variety of peppers. Both varieties are small, and fairly round. One is "Cherry Pick," which is a sweet type, and the plant stays somewhat small. "Cherry Bomb," on the other hand, is spicy, and grows large and breaks it's branches as it grows. I tried not to confuse them... They're good green, red, and pretty much whenever. If you like peppers, which I don't. In addition, we had some banana peppers coming ripe.
Hubby loves pickled things, but the 'modern' method of pickling, which includes pasteurized vinegar and high-heat processing, completely denatures the food. What was once a nutrient- and enzyme-rich way of preserving harvest's bounty has become exactly the opposite (see Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, link in my sidebar). To this end, I've tried to meet Hubby's preference for pickled stuff without losing the benefits of healthy eating.
*Note: In addition to Nourishing Traditions, I also consulted Making Sauerkraut and Pickled Vegetables at Home.
The basic method:
trim and prepare peppers (vegetables, spices, etc)
stuff them in a jar (I used 2-quart jars)
add sea salt liberally (I don't recall the exact amount. I added extra because I ended up needing more water to cover the produce)
cover with filtered water
add a bit of whey.
Then, the really weird part:
Put lids on, and leave them sit on the counter for a few days, at least.
That's right; let them sit at room temperature for a while. After that, they can go into 'cold storage,' which is a warm fridge or the traditional root cellar. We have neither, so they're in a cold fridge.
This is the same method your granny used for the "crock" pickles, or sauerkraut. The idea behind it is that the salt preserves it for the short-term, keeping harmful bacteria from reproducing too rapidly. The whey (the liquid that separates from yogurt, buttermilk, etc) is full of lactic-acid producing bacteria, which, as their name implies, produce lactic acid. This serves to preserve the foodstuffs (long-term harmful bacterial suppression) as well as aid digestion.
These don't get cooked, canned, or heated. In fact, it's best to eat them cold (or mildly heated - not in the microwave).
Our peppers have been in the fridge for a month or more now, and they've lost some of their brightness, but we're hoping they're tasty (at least Hubby's hoping - they're not tasty even fresh, if you ask me). According to the books, there's no chance of getting sick if the process derails somewhere along the way. Apparently the smell will ward off any attempts at consumption. :)
So - here's to good-eatin', and good-livin' -- all at the same time. :)


Rachel said...

Wow, those are some really pretty peppers! That's a really interesting preservation method. I don't know much about pickling...

Benny said...

This makes me want to can and grow more things too. Even though I would not be likely to eat much of it. But it does look like a satisfying thing to have on your pantry shelf, none the less. ;o)