Sunday, March 25, 2012

Recipe: Lacto-fermented Roasted Peppers

If the preservation of the home means the enslavement of women, economically or morally, then we had better break it. – Agnes Macphail (1st woman elected to the Canadian Parliament, 1921)

Lacto-fermented roasted red pepper. Lacto sauerkraut (one day old) behind.
Let’s talk about preservation. We’ve all heard of pickled peppers before, but what about lacto-fermented? Pickling is a common method of preservation that uses salt, vinegar and spices to preserve vegetables, meats, etc. “Lacto” is a bit different.

What is lacto-fermentation?
1. Place cleaned peppers on a foil-lined
pan. Rub with vegetable oil.
Lacto-fermentation is a very ancient preservation technique. It uses beneficial bacteria already present on food including lactobacillus and bifidobacterium (and other present lactic acid probiotics) that will thrive in an air-free fermenting environment. If the names sound familiar it’s because they are present in, and a major selling feature of, yogurt.

A wide variety of beneficial lactic-acid bacteria and yeasts work together in the process of lacto-fermentation. They convert raw food into a more easily-digestible product . In the process other difficult to access nutrients in the food are released that often "pass through." 

2. Roast until the peppers begin to blister. Remove skin.
In a nut shell, lacto- fermentation employs salt to draw liquid from the item being fermented to form a brine. The resulting brine then keeps bad (rotting) bacteria at bay until the lactobacillus and friends kick in. The good bacteria then overpower the other bacteria and do not allow them to grow.

I have made cabbage a couple times. It is very close to the store-purchased sauerkraut but somehow far tastier. The cabbage is transformed. The recipe can be found here.

The lacto-fermentation method can be used with many different vegetables, including all peppers. I happened to use red bell peppers for this recipe because I found some at half price. You know me – I can’t pass up a deal…

I have made jalapenos before but heed some friendly advice. If using hot peppers wear gloves. I really mean it. The whole night after making them my hands burned between my fingers even after washing about six times! Unpleasant to say the least.

You all should try this at least once. You’ll be surprised at the results. If for some reason it doesn’t work, you’ll be able to tell by the look and smell, so it’s quite a safe process.

3. Slice into strips and sprinkle with salt. Knead gently.
Lacto-fermented Roasted Peppers
Yield: 1 pint (500 ml)
4 red bell peppers, washed
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp salt
plus 1 tbsp salt in1 cup hot water

Cut the stems out of the peppers and remove the seeds. Cut each pepper in half and flatten.

Arrange on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Rub the surface of each pepper with oil. Don’t use olive oil because it has a lower smoking point than vegetable oil.

Roast the red peppers under a broiler at a distance of about 8 inches for approximately 7 minutes, or until they begin to blacken. Remove from the oven and cover with more foil to sweat as they cool.

4. After kneading. Notice the collected juices.
Once cool, remove the burnt skin and slice into strips. Place the strips in a bowl.

Sprinkle the strips with 1 tbsp salt and knead gently for about 10 minutes taking care not to break up the slices. You will notice liquid will be drawn out of the peppers.

After the 10 minutes, place the slices in a sterilized 500 ml (1 pint) Mason jar. Pour the collected liquid over the top.

The liquid has to come up to the top of the peppers. If it doesn't, mix another tbsp of salt with very hot water and pour over the top. Use only enough brine to cover.

Seal tightly and wait at least 1 month before using. Once opened, refrigerate.


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