Here's a fermentation process I'm experimenting with.
- 2-3 bunches of radishes (or enough to fill a 1 quart jar), washed and sliced thin, with the tops removed
- 1 clean, quart sized mason jar
- 2 cups filtered water
- 2 tablespoons of sea salt
- a splash of apple cider vinegar (optional)
- Place thin sliced radishes in jar.
- Make brine by combining 2 tablespoons of sea salt and 2 cups of warm filtered water and then let salt dissolve into water; stir to help salt dissolve.
- Pour salted water over radishes, leaving approx 1.5" of space from the top. Place jar in a bowl to catch whatever brine overflows.
- Place 1 small mason jar or fermenting weights into the mason jar to hold the radishes below the brine, as pictured. (Note the double jar in the photo above.)
- Set on counter to ferment for 7-10 (or longer!) days.
- Around day 7, check on the radishes. If they are still salty, let them ferment a couple of days longer. When they are sour and tasty, then cover mason jar with a lid and store in refrigerator.
- Use on salads, with sushi in place of pickled ginger, as a snack, or...
You can do this in any size jar, just use 1 Tablespoon salt per 1 cup water. For the batch pictured I split this recipe into 2 half-liter jars, so I could experiment with different fermenting times. Fermentation time will vary widely based on temperature, humidity, etc. Let your taste buds be your guide.
These radishes are fermented via a technique called lacto-fermentation, which refers to a strain of bacteria called Lactobacillus.
The diets of every traditional society have included some kind of lacto-fermented food. Think sauerkraut, grape leaves, kimchi, and all kinds of vegetable pickles, for example. Commercial pickles, and now many homemade pickles, are made with vinegar which produces a more standardized result, but none of the benefits of lacto-fermentation.
The bacteria Lactobacillus converts sugars or lactose into lactic acid, which naturally preserves foods, such as vegetables or dairy. By fermenting vegetables or dairy through lacto-fermentation, it makes the nutrients more bioavailable, increases digestibility, and supports your microbiome (gut health).
All the research I've done on fermenting emphasizes that fermentation is as much an art as a science. There are many different approaches to this practice, and room for mistakes as well. I suggest a little background reading before you dive in. I like The Food Renegade's The 3 Biggest Fermenting Mistakes, as well as Are Mason Jar Ferments Safe as a place to start. Enjoy your experimentation, and let me know of your fermenting successes in the comments below.