Why I Gave up Canning and Started Fermenting- And how its done

If you garden you have probably been tempted to preserve your fruits and vegetables in a variety of ways. Canning is one option, freeze drying is another, but very few ever considered fermenting it. Let me be the first to tell you canning is a huge pain in the rear end. Litterally for just 6 ball jars your looking at about 4-8 hours standing in front of a hot stove, and there is no such thing as “Breaks”. This is worse then a full time job. Honestly the expense of the thing makes it well worth while to just buy can food at the grocery store for 50 cents. (so long as it doesn’t have chemicals or high fructose corn syrup). Fermenting your food is a lot less work and headache- plus you have the added benefit of getting drunk :-D.

Some might not like the alcoholic aspect of fermenting food but here is the amazing secrete- the alcohol by volume is adjustable by the amount of sugar used, you can make it as low or as high as you want. Not to mention the alcohol burns away on the stove anyway, for most recipes its no big deal. For fermented foods you only need about 0.5% to keep it stored forever. Flavor is really the big question, Fermenting your (Blank) may make it taste even better or it will taste aweful. It depends what you are fermenting but either way expect the flavor to change a little. Largely the change in flavor depends on alchol level so the lower you go the better. You can do this simply by investing in a hydrometer- or just get a beer making kit that comes with hydrometer (as well as everything else you will need).

The way this works is simply a combination of how people make home made beer and how people can their own food. You should keep your canning recipes. The only real difference in most recipes is adding yest, unless the recipe calls for salt. If the recipe calls for salt replace it with sugar. Take your food add your sugar and boil it as if you were going to can it (150 deg for 60-90mins). Dump the pot into a sterilized beer making bucket or carboy, let it cool down to room temp. Take a hydrometer reading, note what level it says (this is how much sugar is in the pot). If the sugar is too high you can dilute it by adding more boiling water. Never go above 1%, and this would be the best time you have to adjust this. Add yest, either brewers yest or actual beer/wine yest- active dry yest wont really work well and real beer/wine yest is not that expensive. Put the bong on the lid, close it up and let it sit in a cool dark place for a couple days. Pay attention to the bung bubbler, when it stops bubbling it means it’s ready. Check with your hydrometer to ensure the yest ate all the sugar- it should give you a reading of 0%. Once all of that is done, watch out for sediment- there should be some gunk on the bottom of the bucket. (If ever you made beer/wine you should know about this gunk). That stuff is not big deal, but we dont really want to look at it do we. Without shaking the bucket around and stiring that stuff up get another bucket and put all your veggies in there, then siphon out the water leaving the gunk on the bottom. From here you have 2 options

A. let it sit in the new bucket a little while longer. this ensures no more gunk will be created in the can, it may even give us better flavor. For beer makers you know this step as Secondary fermentation, its purely optional and our purpose here is just for better clarity.

B. Go ahead and can it. You may get gunk in the bottom of your cans, but it wont be anywhere near as much as before in the bucket, and its perfectly harmless anyway.

sterilize your cans thoroughly and add your food and water. Truly this whole process should take only a couple days I recommend using a Pale Ale yest as it tends to fully ferment quick. The quicker it ferments means less time for germs, In beer/wine this isnt always a good thing, but as lazy caners were not really interested in getting drunk…. (or are we)

I came up with this Idea last year with my blackberries while making black berry wine. I found you can ferment and preserve just about any food you can grow. The beauty of this idea is it’s a lot less hassle, basically you boil your stuff up and forget it a couple days then can it. Unlike beer makers we dont have to worry about carbonation exploding the can, so it is ok to just use ball jars. The other benefit is your fruits and veggies will literally last for thousands of years, while keeping all that nutrition we gardeners like. You may want to familiarize yourself with how people make beer/wine with home brew kits, just so you know how the equipment is used and what all precautions to make- I admit here im not really going in depth. It may be worth your while to brew a 5 gallon batch of beer or wine first, to see how much simpler all this really is. Call me crazy, call me better then Martha Stewards, call me whatever- this whole thing is just so much easier and is that much less likely to give people botulinum toxin.

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5 thoughts on “Why I Gave up Canning and Started Fermenting- And how its done”

  1. Do you think there might be another name for this type of fruit and veg processing? What you have described here is not fermenting as I know and do. There is no heat required when fermenting fruit and veg and definitely no yeast added. It is not alcoholic. Boiling food destroys most of it’s goodness. These wordpress bloggers have done a nice job of defining vegetable and fruit fermentation. MS Another Way or try Fermentista Fermentista . Check them out and see what you think. I hope this has been helpful and keeps others from being misinformed. Melissa

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    1. This is how did it with green beans and tomatos… it’s not the official way it’s actually just a spin off of making beer. But as it turns out fermenting food is that easy . All you need is micro bacteria of some kind to turn this thing into that that thing. But really this is just something to get people to look into other things.

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  2. I understand what you are saying there, and I think it is great that you want to introduce people into new forms of food preservation.

    Fermenting is a traditional, sustainable, low-tech method of preserving food with incredible health benefits. The food is not stripped of its nutrition through heating. There is a wonderful history to fermenting. Most countries (other than western) still consume fermented foods daily. It is how our ancestors preserved food before refrigeration and high-tech canning was invented. They have an incredible flavor which is sour, tangy, and sometimes bubbly. Fermenting reaches far beyond the garden also– dairy, meats, even water can be fermented. The word “cultured” is used interchangably with “fermented.”

    Most health stores sell at least fermented sauerkraut, and possibly pickles and salsa. They might have milk kefir or kombucha tea. That is how I first came to know about this probiotic goldmine-the health store.
    I know your heart and intentions are in the right place and please know the same of me. Just trying to be helpful.

    Melissa

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