Lacto-fermentation stands as a traditional food preservation technique that harnesses the power of beneficial bacteria to transform fresh cucumbers into tangy, probiotic-rich delights. This method involves the breakdown of carbohydrates present in cucumbers by natural bacteria, primarily Lactobacillus, into lactic acid, contributing to the unique taste and extended shelf life of the cucumbers.
What is Lacto-fermentation?
Food fermentation, in general, involves the breakdown of carbohydrates by bacteria, yeast, or molds, resulting in a fermented product with distinct flavors and textures. Lacto-fermentation specifically utilizes lactic acid-producing bacteria, predominantly from the Lactobacillus genus, to break down sugars in an oxygen-free environment, creating lactic acid as a byproduct.
How does it work?
During lacto-fermentation, live bacteria present naturally on the cucumbers initiate the fermentation process when submerged in a saltwater brine. This environment, rich in lactic acid bacteria, triggers the breakdown of sugars into lactic acid and carbon dioxide. Sealing the container limits oxygen exposure, promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria and preventing the proliferation of harmful microorganisms.
Why is it used?
The technique of lacto-fermentation has been employed for centuries to preserve food by inhibiting the growth of harmful organisms, extending shelf life, reducing food waste, and enhancing flavors and textures.
Different from Canning:
Contrary to canning, which utilizes heat to sterilize food, lacto-fermentation relies on live bacteria to prevent the growth of harmful organisms. While canned foods have a longer shelf life, fermented foods maintain distinct flavors, textures, and nutritional benefits.
Exploring lacto-fermentation uncovers many health benefits and delicious culinary finds. Adding probiotic-rich foods like fermented cucumbers to your meals brings diverse flavors and boosts your overall health.
Preparation time 5 days
This recipe keeps for 42 days
Ingredients (6 servings)
- 900 g Cucumber, raw
- 700 g Water (enough filtered water to cover the cucumbers once they’re placed in the jar)
- 28 g Salt (non-iodized - 4% of the waters weight in sea salt)
- 2 sprigs Dill, fresh
- 1 tsp, whole Black pepper
- 1 tsp, whole Mustard Seeds
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Prepare the Jar (Approximately 1.8 liters)
Choose a glass jar large enough for the cucumbers (approximately 1.8 liters). Ensure all fermentation equipment, particularly the jar, is thoroughly sterilized.
Tips: Sterilize the jar and other equipment by pouring boiling water over them. Ensure the jar is back at room temperature before use.
Clean the Cucumbers
Wash the cucumbers thoroughly, removing any dirt.
Pack the Cucumbers into the Jar
Place the cucumbers into the jar, ensuring they are snugly packed but leaving some space at the top.
Pour Filtered Water Over Cucumbers
Pour filtered water over the cucumbers until they’re submerged by about 1 cm (½ inch). At the same time, make sure you leave some space at the top, approximately 2.5 cm (1 inch), to accommodate expansion.
Weigh the Water
Pour the water out of the jar to be weighed. In our case, it weighed 700 grams. It’s essential to measure this each time as it may vary based on your jar size and how the cucumbers fit in it.
Determine the Salt Amount
After weighing the water, calculate 4% of its weight, which will indicate the precise amount of salt needed. In our case, 4% of 700 grams of water equals 28 grams of salt. Do not overlook this step!
Prepare the Brine Solution
Add the amount of salt to the water and whisk vigorously until fully dissolved.
Optional - Flavor
Place fresh dill sprigs among the cucumbers and sprinkle whole peppercorns and mustard seeds.
Pour the Brine Solution Back Over Cucumbers
Pour the brine solution back over the cucumbers.
Use Weight to Submerge Cucumbers
If necessary, place a weight on top of the cucumbers to keep them submerged under the brine.
Cover Jar and Ferment at Room Temperature
Cover the jar and leave it at room temperature for 4-7 days or until it reaches the desired level of tanginess. If using a sealed jar, remember to periodically burp the jar to release built-up gas.
After fermenting, store the jar in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks.
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One serving contains 25 calories, 1 grams of protein, 0 grams of fat, and 6 grams of carbohydrates.
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