I recently had the opportunity to taste some kraut that was anaerobically made. The friend who dropped by my house, wanting me to check their kraut ‘to see if it was ok’ didn’t tell me details, other than me knowing which fermentation vessel she was using from our conversations on fermentation. I picked up the spoon and took a bite. It was tangy, slightly salty and extremely crisp. It was beautifully made kraut!
She didn’t know if it was safe to eat. She wanted my opinion. My opinion was that it was fantastic and that she should enjoy it.
It was over a year old. She didn’t tell me the age of the kraut until after I told her it was good. She was pretty amazed.
Isn’t it amazing that anaerobically fermented food can last so long, even in the humid and moldy South? When I use the truly anaerobic methods of the Pickl-It or the Harsch crock, I can consistently get ferments that last until they are used up. Previously, I was lucky to get three months out of a batch that didn’t grow mold.
One of the biggest beauties of anaerobic fermentation is that you can preserve foods from harvest to harvest. In the past, I have done a good amount of canning every summer and fall. However, within the last year we’ve learned that regular canning lids have BPA and the reusable canning lids have formaldehyde in them. I don’t want either anywhere near my kids or my food. So this year I am shifting from canning to anaerobic fermentation in a Harsch crock and a Pickl-It to preserve my foods from harvest to harvest.
Yes, it does require some up-front investment, but so does the canning equipment. However, the work isn’t any more difficult and it is definitely cooler and less time consuming. No stove, no heat and I don’t have to stay up until 1 or 2 am waiting for jars to be done processing and cool enough to remove from the pressure canner after a long canning session.
So this year, instead of jams and jellies, I will make lacto-fermented chutney. I will make sauerkraut and dilled carrots. I will ferment my green beans and pickles. I’m still trying to decide on my tomatoes, but the freezer is looking really good right now. We’ll have more digestive enzymes, probiotics, vitamins and the myriad of other goodies that come with lacto-fermentation without the potential of chemical exposure through the canning jar lids. The fired glass used for the Pickl-It and its components are lead and cadnium-free, as are the wire bails. The Harsch is lead-free, too.
The more I read about plastic (here, here and here among many more), the more I want it no where near my food or my kids. We know that other probiotic products such as kombucha should be kept away from plastic because it will attempt to detoxify it, pulling the chemicals into the liquid. We don’t have solid evidence that this doesn’t happen in other probiotics products or if other interactions could take place between acidic, probiotic-filled ferments and a plastic container, so I do not feel comfortable fermenting in plastic.
So I will stick to my non-plastic, truly anaerobic fermentation options and leave the plastic until more solid evidence is out about the true effects of plastics in food. And in turn, I will be able to keep my goodies until they are used up, get extra probiotics, vitamins and minerals into the family and have true harvest-to-harvest preservation.