Modern day preserving methods often require using a lot of sugar. And let’s be honest, it produces some special results in the form of jams, chutneys and bottled fruits to enjoy year round. Most methods using sugar demand cooking at high temperatures, which can kill off beneficial health-giving enzymes in fruits and veggies. There are important health considerations about eating much, or even any sugar in addition to the natural fructose in the fruit. Killing off enzymes seems a right shame, and I was also asking myself about the associated agricultural practices, and, access to sugar. What would I do if I couldn’t get cheap sugar? It wasn’t so long ago that sugar was a luxury item. How would I preserve the harvest? Could there be more than one way? Could we have our health and a cheap, local solution to preserving that we could count on from year to year, regardless of what upheaval may occur with our global food system?
Asking around, I found that some people have preserved with success using only water. It’s not a recommendation by the vacola preserving guide, though.
Then, as it tends to, another option arrived. Wild fermentation! Fermented foods enhance health and preserves the harvest, all in one go. We already eat a lot of them: tea, chocolate, sourdough bread, pickles, salami, miso, soy sauce, yoghurt, not to mention wine and beer…
I’ve learned about “pro-biotic” foods and cultured drinks from a friend and the books of Sandor Katz, a self-taught American wild-fermentation-experimenter-extraordinaire!
Recipes from his book Wild Fermentation are so easy to follow, you’ll have a number of strange concoctions brewing in your cupboards in no time. And often you don’t even need any sugar, only salt and the veggie of your choice. I’ll be reporting soon on my efforts with kimchi, zuchinni kraut, and more.
Into the wild we go!