Lacto-Fermented Ginger Lime Carrots
Fresh ginger + fresh lime + yellow and white carrot spirals + salt + time = LOVE! If you've been gifted a zoodle maker over the holidays and are curious about makin' your own lacto-fermented vegetables, I'm thrilled you stopped by! I've got the perfect combination to get you started.
Ginger added to any citrus is spectacular in my book. It seems to lend itself particular well to fermented foods and beverages. After some digging, I couldn't find a good answer for why this is, or even if my observational experiences could be answered with science. I do know that fermented ginger is DELICIOUS!
So why bother fermenting foods? Besides the obvious... they're freakin' DELICIOUS... there are some evidence-based reasons you should be including fermented foods into your diet on a regular basis. While healthy gut microbiota has been studied for decades now, scientists are only recently beginning to understand the complex connection between gut health and disease outcomes. There is also evidence to suggest a bidirectional relationship between gut microflora and brain function, particularly mood. How these microbes communicate with our cells is a HOT topic!
Lacto-fermentation increases healthy microbes that flourish in the intestinal tract. The process has also been shown to increase absorption of nutrients contained in the vegetables and/or reduce phytic acid levels. Phytic acid can inhibit the absorption of certain nutrients. In fact, a push is being made to have fermented foods included in world-wide food guides. You can read more about this HERE.
So let's get started!
Originally, I intended to make this fermentation with shredded carrots, but I was gifted a hand-held spiralizer that was calling my name. It made a great stocking stuffer and performed adequately for an adult making a quart of carrot spirals, but I can't recommend hand-held spiralizers for any serious work or for use with children.
The tool made some nifty-looking cores though. We dipped them in hummus for a great snack - no waste!
Let's get started!
Total Time: 5-10 days, plus 15 minutes active prep Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: none
Here's what you'll need to make one quart: PRINT HERE
4 cups (packed) carrot spirals (or grated) - I used a mix of white and yellow carrots, but any color is fine
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated (about a 2" knob)
2 large limes (3 key limes), zest and juice
1 Tbsp unrefined, non-iodized sea salt without any anti-caking agents, etc.
3 - 4 cups filtered water*
* Non-chlorinated water is important so the naturally-occurring bacteria is not destroyed.
1. Wash your containers, knife, cutting board, peeler and spoon in hot soapy water. They do not need to be sterilized, but they do need to be thoroughly clean and dry.
2. Wash and dry the carrots and limes.
3. Carrots can be left unpeeled or peeled as long as they have been thoroughly scrubbed. Do not use any vegetable soap. If they are organically grown, I would leave the peels intact. According to researchers at Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, about half of the phytochemicals (biologically active compounds with potential, but uncertain health benefits) contained in carrots are in the skin. You can read more HERE.
4. Spiralize or grate the carrots and put them in a non-reactive bowl.
5. Peel the ginger, grate it and add it (along with any fibers) to the carrots.
6. Zest the limes (using a microplane or zesting tool), add this to the carrots.
7. Squeeze the lime juice over the carrots, extracting as much juice as possible. Use a CLEAN hand, tongs or a spoon to combine.
8. There are two methods used to introduce the salt to the vegetables. I used the brine method. If you've made spirals you may wish to use the brine method too as this method will likely keep the spirals intact.
Brine Method: Bring 1 cup of the filtered water to a boil and dissolve the salt into the hot water and allow to cool. Add three more cups of cold filtered water to the salt water. Stir with a clean spoon to combine. Add the carrot mixture to your jar, packing them down tightly. Cover all with the brine, leaving 1-2” of head space. You may have some extra brine left over. Save this in case you need to add a little extra to your jar if leakage brings the level down too far.
Massage Method: Combine all ingredients in a medium glass or non-reactive bowl. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sea salt on top. With a CLEAN hand, massage everything together for five minutes. This will start the process of the salt extracting the juices and moisture from the vegetables. Allow to sit for five minutes and then massage again for another five minutes. Pack the vegetables (and liquid) tightly into your clean jar/s. Leave 1-2" of headspace in each jar. Use a clean, non-reactive spoon to press down the mixture. You should have enough moisture extracted to cover the vegetables. If not, make up a little brine as described above and add enough so the veg are completely covered.
9. If you have fermentation weights, fermentation water-sealed crocks or pressure-release lids you can use those, but they are not necessary to achieve a safe and delicious product. You can use smaller ceramic or glass ramekins or lids to help keep the vegetables submerged.
10. If you are using mason jars (or any other type of regular screw-top jar), do not tighten the lid completely. Leave it secure, but easily removed with one hand. If you have fermentation lids with pressure-release valves, you can tighten them as usual. You can also use tightly weaved cloth secured with a rubber band during the fermentation process.
11. Store your jar/s at room temperature on a dark shelf or out of direct light where you can attend to it easily (don’t put them somewhere where you might forget about them).
12. The warmer the room temperature, the quicker the fermentation will happen. Ideal ambient temperature is 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are concerned at all about your room temperature, just leave the jar/s out for 24-48 hours to begin the fermentation process and then store the jar in the refrigerator, cold root cellar or basement. It will take longer for the veg to acquire a nice tanginess, but they will eventually get there.
13. If left at room temperature, begin tasting after about three days. If you prefer more tanginess and a softer texture, allow the veg to continue fermenting at room temperature. When you are satisfied with the flavor and texture, tighten the lid and refrigerate or store in a cold (not freezing) basement or root cellar. The veg will keep for at least nine months.
This is how they looked after three days. Plenty of bubbles and wonderfully fragrant, but not quite ready.
This is how the looked after six days - slightly cloudy, still producing bubbles, fragrant, tangy and softer. They're ready!
When I finished a jar of fermented red cabbage, I added some of the remaining juice to this jar of carrots, turning the liquid slightly salmon-colored. I did not detect a difference in flavor, but the color is pretty! You will find a link down below on ways to use leftover fermentation liquid.
These are the lacto-fermentation varieties I've made so far (and continue to make).
Try my Lacto-Fermented Moroccan-Spiced Carrots HERE.
Try my Lacto-Fermented Spicy Carrots HERE.
Try my Lacto-Fermented Red Onions HERE.
Try my Lacto-Fermented Spicy Red Cabbage HERE.
Try my Sauerkraut HERE.
~ Expect the veg to change color. Some vegetables will brighten or become a much deeper color, others will lose some or most of their color.
~ Expect the liquid to become cloudy. You may also see white mold on top. This is perfectly NORMAL and a sign that good bacteria are doing their job. No need to panic. If it bothers you, remove it with a CLEAN non-reactive utensil.
~ Expect to see bubbles, both around the edges at the top and coming up from the bottom. This is NORMAL. You may hear a slight release of pressure when you unscrew the lids. If you've tightened your lids a bit too much, a bit of the liquid may spew out. Replace as needed to keep the veg covered.
~ By day 3-4 you will notice a slightly sour or acidic smell, not like vinegar, but sort of sour. This is also NORMAL and a good indicator that it’s time to start tasting. Be sure to use a CLEAN non-reactive utensil each time you taste.
~ If you are using regular, finger-tightened lids, some liquid may seep out. I am keeping my jars on a paper towel-lined tray to avoid messy clean-up.
~ If you notice ANY red or pink mold or black scum, or you smell an unmistakable putrid, rotten-egg smell, this is a sign that something has gone wrong. Toss the batch and start over. I have yet to see this happen.
~ Any combinations that include garlic and/or onions are going to permeate the room while fermenting if you are using regular, loosely tightened lids. This is not necessarily a concern, just something to be aware of.
~ Regular servings of lacto-fermented vegetables are one of the most delicious ways to increase the healthy microflora in your gut. The process has also been shown to increase absorption of nutrients contained in the vegetables and/or reduce phytic acid levels. Phytic acid can inhibit the absorption of certain nutrients. In fact, a push is being made to have fermented foods included in world-wide food guide. You can read more about this HERE.
Let me know how it goes. I’m here to help you! If you make this recipe, I'd love to hear how you and your guests liked it! Snap a photo and tag me too, #chefcatherinebrown. I love seeing what you make!
So what's your favorite fermented food to eat (or drink)? Let me know in the comments below!
Nutrition information is for 1/2 cup, including brine.
A note about sodium content in fermented vegetables - because salt is used to both extract moisture from plants as well as help preserve them, sodium content will be higher than other methods. You can reduce the sodium by removing the vegetables and squeezing as much brine as you can. This works best with shredded or finely chopped vegetables. You can also give a quick rinse under cold water, but you will likely be removing some healthy microbes (as well as plenty of dead ones) in the process.
DISCLOSURES: None. This post was not created in affiliation with any product or brand. The opinions expressed are my own. I will only write about products I use and trust.
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