Lacto-Fermented Carrots

This lacto-fermented carrot recipe is a yearly go-to in our kitchen. It can be whipped up in very little time and is a family favorite with the adults and kids in the Fagan house. The carrots stay crispy, can be as tangy as you wish, all while giving your body the fermented bacterial goodness that we all need during this crazy health crisis. And the best part: It’s incredibly cheap to make!

This year I planted Dragon and Scarlet Nantes carrots in the garden and both varieties seem to work great in this particular ferment. But in all honesty, I have never had a carrot that did not work great in this recipe, so any fresh carrots will do!

Making of a Home Lacto-Fermented Carrots

1 pound fresh carrots

4 garlic cloves

2 cups of warm water

2 tablespoons sea salt (be sure your salt contains no added fillers or anti-caking agents)

1 cabbage or collard green leaf

1 glass quart-sized canning jar

Peel your garlic cloves and place them in the bottom of your jar. Next, place your trimmed carrots vertically in the glass jar, nestling them in there nice and snug. Continue to pack your jar until you have an inch of headspace remaining.

Mix together your warm water and salt until the salt is dissolved. Then pour this mixture over the top of your carrots and garlic.

Finally, take your cabbage or collard leaf and tuck it into the jar, helping to keep all of those cute little carrot tops submerged under the brine mixture. Tightly cap your jar.

Allow your jar to sit on your counter at room temperature to ferment for 6 – 10 days, depending upon how tangy you would like your ferment to taste. ***In the beginning stages of fermentation (the first 2-3 days), you will have to “burp” your jars to allow some of the carbon dioxide to escape. If you don’t “burp” your jars, there is a chance your jars could explode.

Once your ferment reaches your desired “funk” level, place it in the refrigerator. Your fermented carrots can remain in your fridge, unopened for up to 6 months.

Makin’ Kraut

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I love cabbage in an obsessive, kind-of-creepy way.  I adore it raw in salads, sautéed in butter, and cooked down alongside a big ole’ roast in a low and slow oven.  But perhaps my favorite way to enjoy this curciferous comestible is in its fermented form as sauerkraut.

I have been starry-eyed about kraut my entire life.  In elementary school, I was the kid ordering ruebens with extra sauerkraut.  In high school, I could be found asking for sauerkraut as a pizza topping.  And when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, sauerkraut was one of the few foods I could eat while battling morning sickness.

Beginning to make sauerkraut at home has only increased my passion for this food.  The taste and texture of home-fermented kraut is unmatched, and the nutritional value is even more unfathomable.  Loaded with literally millions of healthy bacteria, homemade sauerkraut is one of the healthiest foods you can consume.  And, one of the easiest to make.

Here’s how we do our kraut:

Step 1:  Thinly chop up a head of cabbage (green or red).

Step 2:  Spread a layer of chopped cabbage in the bottom of a glass jar or crock, sprinkle with some salt, and bash away at it with a wooden spoon.  (This will break down the membranes of the cabbage, allow the salt in, and pull water out.)

Step 3:  Continue the layering process (cabbage, salt, bash) until you have used all your cabbage and there is enough water to cover the cabbage leaves.  (You may need to add a bit of unchlorinated water.)

Step 4:  Use a plate or glass to weight down the cabbage so that every tiny piece is submerged beneath the surface of the water.  (This is very important because any cabbage leaves exposed to oxygen will grow mold.)

Step 5:  Allow to sit on your counter or in your basement.

Step 6:  Check on your kraut every couple of days until it reaches the tartness and funkiness of your liking 🙂

Living for the Pockets

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Well friends, it has been almost a month since my last post.  When going back to work full time, I had high hopes of still being able to post each day.  Now I’m thinking I may have been in the midst of a bit of a crazy streak to think that would be possible.  In fact, for a few weeks there I did feel like I was quite the loony lady, and sure I would never again be able to take part in those “homestead-ish” acts that had come to make up so much of my life since I left the workforce in 2009.  I felt like I couldn’t balance anything, and found it difficult to stay afloat.

But as always, my husband was there to tell me two things: 1.  You are crazy.  But not  headed down the path to Crazy Town like I thought.  He said I was crazy to think just because I had started back to work full time, that I would have to suddenly abandon who I was.  2.  Give it a few weeks, and you will soon be able to figure out where to fit in all you love to do: teach, raise our family and keep our suburban homestead afloat.

So I did as he directed.  I waited.  And low and behold (and as much as I hate to admit it), he was right.  I have found those little pockets of time here and there where I can still do those activities I love.  In fact, I didn’t even realize I was doing it until I went to download pictures this weekend and discovered that over the course of the past month I had been able to do quite a lot.

But these activities have taken on a different form.  Instead of dedicating several hours in the afternoon to crocheting, I sneak in a couple of rows while sitting at tumbling lessons.  Rather than having an entire fermenting-day, I whip up a quick batch of yogurt on Saturday mornings with extra milk that is about to expire, and throw together an attempt at water kefir on a Friday night after the girls are asleep.

And I think my favorite part of all has been the ability to interweave these homesteading activities into my classroom.  In the midst of a soil composition unit, we  started a worm compost bin, and a chemistry assessment turned into a soapmaking lab.  And I can’t forget the measurement conversion unit where we went outside to make ice cream in the snow.

The crazy part of this new life of mine has been how I now live for those pockets.  Those pockets of time when I can do and share those activities that make me who I am.

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I hope you all move into this week, able to find those pockets in which you can do all that you love.