When you are growing food in a garden in a cold climate, one of the most important things to learn is how to preserve your harvested vegetables. Here in Oslo where I live, the snow mostly comes end of Descember and stays until mid April. So during these months you can’t grow a lot without a green house or similar constructions.
The harvest from my permaculture plot this last season (2015) was very small, and mostly eaten directly. However I am preparing for next season, and hopefully I will get a better yield next automn.
So this week-end I attended a course in fermenting to learn this very old technique. I signed up for Bente Brunvolls course, she teaches fermenting classes regularly here in Oslo. The course was brillinat and I got to make my first batches of fermented produces. They are now sitting and fermenting in my kitchen. Now I have learned how to make sauerkraut, real fermented cucumbers (not the stuff you get at the supermarket made with vinegar) and kvass. And I have startes for both keefir and kombucha.
Fermenting is a very old way of perserving food and in the western world it has mostly been forgotten during the last 70-100 yeras. In addition to keeping us feed during the winter, fermenting helps balance the bacterial flora in our gut. Science is now slowly confirming that the bacterias in the intestinse are a key factor in our health.
When fermenting vegetables we make use of a specific strand of bacteria, the lactobasillius, which is present on the surface of all vegetables. These bacterias convert sugars into lactic acid which is a natural perservative that prevents the growth of harmful bacterias. The fermenting process also makes the minerals and other nutritions more readily available to the human body. In addition it adds a very good sour taste to the foods as well.
One importante point to remember is to use vegetables that are organic or have not been sprayed with pestisides or other chemicals, as this may interfere with, reduce or kill the lactobasillius on the vegetables necessary for the fermenting process to happen.