Pickling, Preserving & Fermenting
“The revelation to produce and store food may be as essential to our temporal welfare today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah.”
– Ezra Taft Benson
Fermented foods are not just another way of storing and preserving produce. More and more studies are showing the incredible health benefits of eating fermented food. For a start fermented foods can greatly improve your overall health as they are packed with numerous components including Vit B complex, probiotics and dietary fibre.
Ferments are a great way of obtaining nutrients as they are brimming with good bacteria that will support your digestive system. Many cultures all over the world have a long understanding that eating certain ferments will aid digestion and generate important enzymes that help absorb nutrients. E.g. when cabbage and cucumbers are combined, the fermentation process deconstructs the sugar content in the vegetable, promoting the correct bacterial growth to support good gut health.
– Pickling & Preserving Foods –
The home cook’s secret weapon is preserving. If you have a vegetable patch, allotment, or fruit trees, it’s a traditional way of making the autumn harvest and summer produce last through the winter; a way of storing our food without using any chemicals or a freezer. It’s a wonderful, ethical, colourful, and tasty way of filling your pantry or larder.
The idea of making your own chutney, jam or kimchi might feel a bit scary but with a little time and patience it’s a very sustainable and resilient approach to preserving food.
– What to preserve –
If you’re not using your own produce, check what’s in season and go for foods you like the taste of. You don’t need to spend a fortune either, you can use your recycled jars and bottles and swap and share fruit and veg with your friends, family, and community. Our neighbours leave out a box of spare apples on their doorstep every autumn and in turn we give them a jar or two of chutney, apple wine or cider vinegar. Some traditional preserves include chutney, Jam, Jelly, and pickles. You can pickle just about anything from carrots to eggs, fish, meat, fruit, and fungi.
What is Fermentation?
Firstly, there are two different types: alcoholic and lactic acid fermentation. Both processes are achieved by applying microorganisms such as bacteria or yeast which help to convert carbohydrates to alcohol or organic acids to anaerobic conditions.
See our wild-wine section for more information on alcoholic fermentation.
Some of the health benefits include:
Boosting the Immune system
Maintaining a healthy intestine
Supporting weight loss
Excellent source of fibre
Increases body energy
Maintains cholesterol levels
Good food source for diabetics
Good for skin and hair
– Fermented Foods –
So many cultures have used fermented foods in their daily cuisines for centuries.
Some of which include:
– Dover House Chutney –
This recipe my mother used to make every year from the glut of apples from the old fruit trees in her garden. My sister and I used to moan about having to spend ages peeling and chopping for her pressure cooker but once Christmas came this delicious chutney always was the most luxurious accompaniment to some blue stilton and a glass of red by the fire. It really was very satisfying and uplifting to have a homemade addition to our Christmas treats.
– Ingredients –
1 ½ lb Victoria plums
2 lb cooking apples
8 oz green or red tomatoes
8 oz onions
1 lb raisins
chilli – a pinch
1 ½ lb demerara sugar
ginger – a pinch or approx. 4 oz raw
1 ½ tablespoons salt
garlic – up to you
1 pint malt vinegar
In the biggest saucepan you can find, my Mum used her pressure cooker, but I prefer to stir. Poor in the entire pint of vinegar then chop everything up, whizz the garlic onions and spices in a food processor or chop finely, then add to the mix. Finally add the salt and sugar then gently heat everything up. I say gently because the mix can easily burn the bottom of the pan. This is why I like to stir the pot regularly.
Simmer the concoction until it breaks down and starts to look like chutney. While it’s still hot, spoon it into sterilised jars and screw the jars down tight. This creates a vacuum and pulls the lids in tight. Let the chutney mature for a month, year or more if you like.