Basic Lacto-Fermentation Method
Lacto-fermentation is one of the oldest forms of preservation. Using just salt and the find's own juices, the process of making fermented greens is very easy to do a home, and works with many foraged finds, such as wild garlic, garlic-mustard or wild leek. The "lacto" in the title refers to lactic acid, which is formed during the fermentation process due to the absence of air in the fermenting jar. Fermented greens tend to be sour, tangy and slightly salty, much like Sauerkraut, which is perhaps the most famous lacto-fermented food in the world, followed by Kimchi, a Korean vegetable ferment.
Lacto-Fermented Wild Greens
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Fermenting Time: 5-7 Days
Cooking Time: None
Quantity: Makes a 1 Litre clip-top Kilner Jar of Fermented Greens
- 2 tsp of salt
- 1 kg of foraged wild greens
- Wash your foraged wild greens in a colander and leave to drain well or use a salad spinner to remove as much water as possible. If you prefer your finished greens to be chopped or shredded, then do this now, otherwise leave the leaves whole.
- Place the leaves in a very large bowl a handful at a time, sprinkling a little of the salt after each handful.
- Optional: massage the salted leaves to help the salt do it's work of breaking down the leaves to release their juices.
- Place a smaller bowl filled with water on top the salted leaves to weigh them down and leave this at room temperature overnight, or for 24 hours.
- After this time, the leaves should be moist and have started to expel their juices. It's now time to start the fermentation process.
- Take a large, sterilised 1 Litre Kilner jar, and place a handful of the leaves into the jar, and pack them down with the end of a rolling pin. This should expel more juice. Continue doing this until all of the leaves are in the jar and compressed down tightly. There should be no, or very few air bubbles between the leaves. Add any juice from the bowl to the jar as well. The leaves should be fully submerged in their own juices. If there is not enough juice to cover the leaves, add a little non-chlorinated bottled spring water to the jar until they are completely submerged. Don't use tap water, as the additives in tap water are not good for the fermentation process.
- Once the leaves are compressed down and completely submerged, place a pickle weight, a small bag filled with water, or some other makeshift weight on top of the leaves to make sure they stay submerged. Close the lid of the jar, but don't seal it, and place it in a cool dark place away from direct sunlight for 5-7 days to ferment. You may see bubbles form and rise to the top of the jar as the leaves ferment - this is normal.
- Taste your fermented leaves daily to see how you like them. The flavour will intensify and become sourer the longer the fermentation is allowed to progress, so when they've reached a flavour level you're happy with, you can stop the fermentation process by sealing the jar and placing it in the fridge, ensuring the leaves remain submerged.
- Your lacto-fermented greens will keep in the fridge for 12-18 months, but keep checking the jar for any signs of mould or other contaminants.