The Preservation of food Part 1: Lacto-fermented Carrot

A few months ago we started participating in a food share program called Feed My Sheep. Once a month I pack up the van with a bunch of laundry baskets and some dear friends and we drive about 45 minuets to a little country church to pick up a few shares of food, and lets be honest, a little mom sanity time!

food

This program works for our family for a number of reasons.

  1. The food we get is mostly fresh produce and with a family that can not eat a lot of processed, prepackaged and glutenous foods this works great.
  2.  Mike is on board. We are a team on this one. It just wouldn’t work for me to cart the girls with and then have to come home and clean, chop and process all that food with out his help. Just one more example of how amazing my husband is!
  3. The processing…The food we receive from this program is usually past its prime or a bit unsightly, and it often needs to be eaten or processed relatively quickly. We have been able to make use of most of the food because I have learned how to preserve food in a variety of helpful ways.

ferments

This post on lacto-fermentation will be the fist of a series on food preservation focused around the items we receive from Feed my Sheep as well as from the abundance of our garden. If you keep a garden you know there comes a time when you are racking your brain for another way to use those zucchinis or, if you live in MN, the frost comes before all of your tomatoes have ripened….what on earth are you going to do with a gallon bucket of green tomatoes? Well, I have a few ideas that I am happy to share with you.

The last time we picked up a few shares of food we received a laundry basket full of organic carrots. They are beautiful! Amazing and crisp, but what do you do with 20+ bags of carrots? Some will be used for soups and broth as well as every day munchies, but that amounts to 1/3 at most, so fermenting it is. Carrots can also be blanched and frozen or fully canned, but my family LOVES ‘spicy carrots’ as the girls have named them and I am long over due for a batch (or 5).

If you are still reading I promise I’m getting to the actual work of fermenting the carrots, but I am sure some people are a bit curious about what lacto-fermentation is. Just about every time I talk about it someone asks a really good question, so let me direct you to This link for a bit more clarity. It is worth the read and Cultures for Health is a wonderful page to explore. There are more recipe ideas there as well. Now on to my carrot project!

Lacto Carrots

Items you will need

  • Jars with Lids
  • Filtered Water
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Ginger root (if desired)
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Fresh Dill (if desired)
  • Cabbage Leaves

Directions

  1. Choose your jars/ lids and make sure they are clean. I use mason Jars mostly quart sized and then pint sized for the extra carrot bits.
  2. Clean and prep your carrots. I just scrubbed mine well, but you may also peel them if you desire to. cut them into sticks and trim them so that there is about 1-2 inches of head room in your jar. (you are going to want that space later)
  3. 1-2 Tbs of sea salt in each jar.
  4. 1/2-1 clove of slightly crushed garlic per jar
  5. A few sprigs of dill and (or) a bit of peeled ginger root slightly crushed in each jar. This just totally depends on your personal taste. you can omit this step if you do not like  (or have) ginger or dill.
  6. At this point you are ready to pack your jars. place the carrot sticks in the jars vertically as tightly as possible.
  7. Pour water into your jars covering the sticks while still leaving some head space.
  8. Place a cabbage leaf on top of your carrot sticks but below the water. The leaf helps to keep everything submerged so make sure it is snug. It is important to keep everything below the waterline. I have made these carrots without the cabbage, but it is helpful for peace of mind.
  9. The jars should sit at room temperature to culture for a few days until your carrots reach a flavor that you are happy with. **Burp your jars at least 1-2 times a day **  Gasses are expelled during this time so you don’t want an explosion. This is where you will be thankful for that head space. It is not uncommon to have an overflow while you burp your jars so watch them carefully.
  10. Move your jars to cold storage. we keep ours in the basement. With lacto-fermented foods you will KNOW if something has spoiled so there is little danger of harm from the food going bad. We typically keep our ferments for about 6 months.

That’s about it for the Lacto-fermented carrots that we make. I do just want to make a note that when it comes to food preservation make sure to do your research! I have come to the methods I use after lots of time on web pages and with book that I trust. There are years of trial and error that have gone into this process for me…don’t let this page be your only resource and don’t be discouraged if something doesn’t work the first time. Try it again…and tweak ideas (where safety permits) to make them your own.

 

Happy Preserving!

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That humbling moment…

 

There was a moment this week…mid conversation…it was all I could do to hold back the quake. That deep knowing that something larger was at work. Once again, the hand of the Lord was moving. All the pain, all the hurt and brokenness…the parts were coming together again, and my vision, once blurred, has begun to focus. 

How many years have I walked this path marked out, having packed away hope and peace? Joy became a stranger. The questions ever present…Does he see? Does the Lord, my father have any idea? Why did he bring us to this place? For what purpose must I continue to die? Over and over and over….

And in a moment the curtain is pulled back a little farther and I can see his protection. I can begin to understand this depth of pain and the great hands that have held me…kept me back from what would destroy. In my humanity I desired good things that were not best…Sometimes the death of a thing is its best conclusion. I am realizing that hard place I was pushed up against was the Lord’s hand. He was always there. When will I learn? When will I allow his goodness towards me to go deep? When will I trust it and draw from it rather then run and question?

  

At the days end I can see the Lord’s grace in it all. With each bit of knowledge I understand myself and the journey a bit more and what is there to do but offer praise in the pain. I have written often of those ashy places and what a desert they seem to be. I’ve pondered many times on the life that can only come after death. When he chooses to grant clarity of vision it still stops me short. He has been here! He has walked beside…he has held the small light to the path infront of me and protected me from every side. This is a humbling realization and my gratitude can only be expressed in deepest praise. 

Today I can stand, something deep having shifted, only because of his grace towards me. Dear God how do I continue to walk faithfully in this space? How do I continue to choose to give from the broken places and allow them the freedom to teach, offer hope and bring healing? This is the journey of the Ebed House. Lord lead us in faithfulness. Teach us how to offer joy in the midst of deepest pain. Allow this space to be a refuge for a broken world and a hurting church.

I’ve been quiet…

I’ve been keeping quiet again, taking in the world…the wonder and the pain. Watching thing die around me and believing there will be new life…holding onto hope. I will never live fall the same way again. It will always be death…wrapped in brilliant beauty….but still death.

I continue to stand at the cusp of something. I am not sure what it is or what it looks like. It is wholly and totally new to me. I cannot see the next step, but I know going back is not an option. I know what is easy and familiar, the call of guilt and responsibility….the unmet expectations….the assumptions of well meaning others…that somehow they understand, know what it is to be in this place…after a 10 minute conversation. It is all death, and I will not live there.

I will continue to follow the sound of a voice I once knew well…calling me forward out of the fog…the ash. Resting in the moments of beauty, and embracing the pain when it comes rather then turning from it.

We used to open our home for Soup Nights. Deep in the birth of the idea was to welcome other’s into our home to delight in one another and share a bit of peace over a simple meal. This dream was lost in the organization of the thing…in my deep clinging desire to do things just right…check some box of expectation…clean my house just so….was I ‘evangelizing’ enough? was I ‘doing’ enough? ‘Producing’ enough? It was never enough. It was death.

So we burnt it! To the ground! 2 years later what came back? Beauty. Peace. Hope. Love. Last Friday night our home was full of laughter. It was one of the most beautiful times I’ve had at the Ebed House. Nothing forced. No expectations. Just the invitation to come and be. This. This place in time…a moment. A glimpse. This is what we were made for. And I take one step further out of the fog…