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Fermenting Experiments - My journey towards buggy goodness

Wednesday, 11 September 2013 00:00

Written by Loren Goldenberg-Kosbab

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It's one of my most favourite winter dishes, with lots of different pork meats, frankfurters, salamis, simmered in wine and served with potatoes. Sorry Vegetarians I am a meat eater!

After seeing a documentary by Russian born, British neurologist Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride who treats everyday a lot of children with disorders such as Autism, ADSD and other disorders such as GERD and puts her treatment success (including her own son who was Autistic but made him well again)  down to good nutritious and fermented foods. Well, that's another story, today, I just want to show you what I have done.

I have been growing in my courtyard garden in containers and small spaces, veg of all descriptions. Cabbages, Spinach, Onions, French Beans, Runner Beans, Courgettes, potatoes, little tomatoes and plum tomatoes, peppers and even have a squash growing in a green house.

Unfortunately, the weather has been terrible, had a good crop of courgettes, then they started to go funny, dimply and hairy??? My cabbages, are great, I have had to share a few leaves with white butterfly caterpillars, slugs and snails. Ho hum, such is an organic growers you know why there are so expensive! Plum tomatoes are copious, but I don't think they will ever ripen with this weather.  Small Toms leggy with only a cordon or two on the vines...bit sad about that but hey, I am experimenting this year, to see what I can grow in containers. Normally it's just runner beans and this year, whilst the others are suffering the runners have been copious.

There's only two of us and we can't eat all those beans, next door also grows them so pointless trying to give them away there. Friends may get a few bunches when I see them, but I have to say since finding out that fermented beans taste fabulous, I feel a bit mean, but  I want to bottle them all! Here is a picture of my beans: Before and after a few days.

The first jar is picked and sliced that day and as you can see very green. That's 2lb of beans there! The second jar is a week later on, and they almost look cooked.

Here's the recipe for you:

  • A Jar suitable (think above are pound jars))
  • Runner Beans (approx 2lb)
  • Sea Salt Course
  • 1 garlic (optional)
  • 1 small sprig Dill (optional)
  • 1 Chili Pepper (optional)
  • Big mixing Bowl

Wash your hands (don't want any unwanted nasties)

Clean and Sterilize your Jar
 If a seal take it out, you need covering but not sealing as it needs air whilst fermenting. It does leak juices, which will need to be topped up with water preferably filtered or distilled after a few days. Sterilize your jar and top by boiling kettle and let it sit in it for a good 15 mins.

Prepare your Veg
Clean beans in fresh water then prepare your beans by slicing them (thin in my case)  either by hand or with bean slicer put a side.

Blanching Beans
You have to blanch beans as they have a poisonous lectin, Phytohaemagglutinin, which gives you upset tummy.

Boil water (preferably filtre). When boiling, place enough beans in, that you can get out quickly after 2 mins. Rinse with cold water (preferably filtre). This stops the cooking process immediately. Drain and place in bowl. You may have to do these in batches but make sure you cool it as soon as they come out after 2 mins in boiling water.

Adding Salt and Squeezing
When you have all your beans, put about 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt in with beans. Mix around and let it stand whilst you prepare if you want, all or some of the combination of herbs and spices above.  Put all your ingredients into bowl with runner beans and salt,  mix and squeeze the mixture gently. 

This breaks down the cells and the salt makes the juices come out by osmosis, which is what you want! 5 - 10 mins or till there is a good amount of liquid, you can always give a rest in between if you get tired.

Once you see a good amount of juice at bottom of bowl, pack as much of the runners into a jar and I mean pack, you will be surprised for the most part it all goes in. Make sure though that there  is a good gap of about an inch, of which is where the liquid will cover the beans. Make sure they are completely covered with the juice, if not enough add a bit of water (filtre preferable) 

Final Stages
Once you are satisfied all the veg are covered, place on a tray in at room temperature and close jar but do not tighten top at all. It will explode as the fermentation suggests, it bubbles and liquid will come out. Hence top up if you see veg exposed during the course of the week.

Cover with cloth, as flies like the smell and we don't wanted added protein : )

Ready to Eat
After three days, they were delicious smelling and tasted pretty good, crisp still so I left them for 7 days in total. Oh and they were tangy, salty, and so aromatic with the dill, spicy chili and garlic taste. 

Wipe bottom of jar and place in fridge and eat when you want, making sure to top up with liquid so veg are not exposed.  If you get any mould, scrape off top surface, underneath will have the bugs protecting it. Cover with water.  

How long the fermentation process can last I don't know, but I have noticed the longer you leave it the softer they become. You can preserve all sorts of veg this way and they will last well up to 6 months from what I have read. Great to have beans in winter! 

I haven't eaten them cooked, but I think you could warm them through if you wanted to have with a hot dinner. Otherwise they are great with snacky foods or just on their own!

That's it for now, try to put up the cabbage one soon.  Have fun and do give me some feedback if you try it or any recipes you might have...or if you don't but just want to comment.





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