Giving a child, or yourself, a fermented carrot stick to snack on is so many levels up on a regular carrot in flavor, and of course in nutritional value. Just like I promised, this is fast slow food ready to grab and eat at any time. All the preparation is done before. Just peel and cut the carrots into rounds or sticks, depending on how you’d like to snack on them. I like rounds because they are bite-sized and perfect for munching on while I’m at the computer or watching TV. Sticks are great for dipping and also to give the kids to take with them as an on-the-run snack – often in the car. —Sharon Flynn, author of Ferment for Good
The brine ratio should be roughly 3 percent.
Preparation time: 5–10 minutes
Fermentation time: 1 week
Equipment: 1-liter (34-fluid ounce) jar, follower (see below), weight, your favorite flavor combination (see below)
A follower is important because sometimes the vegetables float to the top when you want them to stay under the brine. Find a good system to hold them down, or shove the vegetables in so tightly that a simple grape leaf or folded cabbage leaf becomes a kind of barrier to hold them down. For a weight, another vegetable chunk cut to size is pretty lovely — carrots are perfect for this.
Salt content is important, and in brining we use salt on its own to either draw out water or in a brine with water and herbs and spices. The amount of salt you need for brining is different from when you ferment krauts — too much salt will inhibit the lactic acid bacteria, which we actually want; too little and your vegetable might go soggy. Your salt content will depend on how dense your vegetable is — softer ones like cucumbers require more salt (we use a 7 percent brine) than beets and carrots (a 3 percent brine).
Adding spice is easy and completely up to you, but try to stick to three flavors that generally go together. Don’t crush your spices — keep them whole to limit mold. If you want to use herbs such as cilantro and parsley, use the root or stem part that holds all the flavor – the leaves can get soggy or slimy.
The below flavor combinations are some of my favorites, but just recommendations:
— Garlic, chili, and black pepper.
— Dill, mustard seeds, and garlic.
— Lemon zest, garlic, and chili.
— Lemongrass, coriander seeds, and chili.
— Mustard seeds, chopped shallot, and a sprig of thyme or tarragon.
— Dill and parsley root, fennel seeds, and orange zest.
— Turmeric, pepper, and chili.
— Ginger, coriander seed or root, and garlic.
— Celery seeds, caraway seeds, juniper berries, and garlic.
— Star anise, bay leaf, and pepper.
- Ten 1/2-ounce carrots (or enough to fill your jar), peeled and chopped
- About 2–3 tablespoons fine salt
- 4 Cups water (or enough to cover your carrots)
Add your favorite flavor combination to the jar if you wish. Fill the jar with the carrots.
Make a brine with the salt and water (see below) and pour over the carrots, using as much as you need to cover them completely.
Follow and weigh them down (see below) and seal the jar.
They are ready to eat when you think they are delicious (about a week). When you’ve decided they are sour enough, pop them into the fridge for safekeeping. They’ll last for months like that.