January 28, 2011

Lacto-fermentation a long word for homegrown food

With cold weather in Mississippi, now is a great time to make homegrown foods using lacto-fermentation methods.

It is also a wonderful way to dispose of greens in your garden that may have lost optimal flavor (tough or bitter, or just leftover).

My beautiful wife Annette blogged on this two years ago, and it’s still pertinent:

“It started last year. I was curious about the bright, multi-hued jars of preserved veggies lined up above the produce bins in the Rainbow Food Co-op in Jackson. So I tried one, a sauerkraut with hot peppers. Jim and I were both surprised at how delicious it was, not mushy or malodorous! Nothing like the store-bought, pasteurized (dead) kind. Then we tried the beets, and many other versions of lacto-fermented veggies, all yummy and addictive. We eat it as a small side dish with dinner every night, much like the Koreans do with Kim Chee.

“Then I read how Dr. Andrew Weil makes his own sauerkraut

” ‘Fermenting does some of the digestive work for you, so it makes a lot of foods more digestible and the nutrients in them more bioavailable,’ says Weil. So unlike other methods of preserving foods, lacto-fermentation actually increases nutritional value.

“Sauerkraut is a perfect alternative source of acidophilous and other friendly micro-flora, for those who prefer not to eat yogurt. (Vegans in particular.) These flora aid digestion, boost the immune system, and help to keep your digestive system balanced and detoxified.”

There are a couple of methods to doing this. Weill uses a Harsch crock, but that takes weeks to produce, and they are rather pricey.

Annette uses a cheaper method that’s also quicker, see:

She writes: “I use the sea salt proportion Weil recommends (, then add any veggie combination that appeals to me. I always add fresh grated ginger and fresh grated turmeric if available. I go easy on garlic, as the process makes its flavor stronger. You don’t have to use a starter, but I do. Yogurt whey, miso, kraut juice or a capsule or two (half teaspoon) of a probiotic culture is fine.”

There are more fermentation methods and recipes in the book Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Ellix Katz (Chelsea Green, 2003, $25).

For more from Annette and her process, see:

I can attest: Eating a little bit of lacto-fermented organic veggies each day with a meal incredibly aids in good digestion!

Have you gotten your seed catalogs yet? That’s a favorite activity of ours: Annette and I just drool over the photos and plot and plan what we want to plant in the spring. Some of our faves:

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, (417) 924-8917; Mansfield, Mo.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 1-800-854-2580; Winslow, Maine.

Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, (888) 784-1722; Grass Valley, Calif.

Seeds of Change, (888) 762-7333; Santa Fe, N.M.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, (540) 894-9480; Mineral, Va.

Also, if you are into seed sharing or seed banks, check out:

Seed Savers Exchange, (319) 382-5990; Decorah, Iowa.

SeedLiving Exchange:

Remember, for your 4×8-foot “Jim’s plot,” you want certified organic seeds or, if unavailable, heirloom seeds; no hybrids or genetically modified seeds.

For more vendors, see:

The 2011 Dixie National Rodeo and Livestock Show runs Saturday through Feb. 20 at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds in Jackson. For details, see the Miss. Dept. of Agriculture site:

I always liked looking at the goats and figured maybe someday that I might raise some. But after reading a wonderful book on the subject, I decided otherwise. I highly recommend Brad Kessler’s beautiful book Goat Song: A Seasonal Life, A Short History of Herding, and the Art of Making Cheese (Scribner, 2009, $24) to anyone who has dreamed of buying a farm, raising goats and making cheese. Sounds idyllic. Lyrical, in fact, which is how Kessler’s book is written: with great love and beauty. But it also exposes the terribly hard work involved.

Here he is in an online interview with Culinate magazine: http://www.culinate. com/articles/the_culinate_interview/brad_kessler.

Annette will be a presenter at the Winston County Self Help Cooperative’s fourth Annual Saving Rural America & Youth Conference Feb. 25 & 26 in Louisville, Ky. For more information: (662) 779-2400 or

Here’s a great job to learn about organic (and “conventional”) farming from the bottom up, and from an expert! Bill Evans of the Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service Truck Crops Experiment Station in Copiah County is looking for two assistants: one doing lab, data and field tasks, the other mostly field tasks. Either way, it could be a great opportunity; call him if interested: (601) 892-3731. For more on the station, see:

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook: or follow him @edibleprayers or @organicwriter or visit


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s