Sunday, November 7, 2010

Canned Food and Lacto-fermentation

Most everyone who studies nutrition knows that canned food has lost a good share of it's nutritional value, some foods more than others. Enzymes are lost with heat and friendly microbes are killed off and some vitamins are destroyed. Sally Fallon calls this loss, "denatured". Be that as it may, we still need to store food, due to today's uncertainties.

I still "can" food, not much and mostly from my own garden and neighbor's gardens. I can some apricot and peach jams, some tomatoes and this season, apple juice. I mean by "can" that food is heated up enough to kill microbes and then sealed in clean, sterilized jars and stored in my basement. I also sun dry cherries. I buy dehydrated and freeze dried fruits and vegetables for storage. I've been canning since my mother and grandmother used me and my sisters when we were little but old enough to hold a paring knife without cutting ourselves. I did a lot of canning when my children were growing up but I've cut back now because I don't consume sugar anymore and I don't have children living with us but more importantly I use exclusively fresh produce for our meals. I grow a few vegetables myself and there are vegetable and fruit stands close by

I buy commercially canned food. Mostly beans, great northern, navy and other white beans and a few select vegetables. The problem is how to increase the nutrition of canned food?

I have discovered a tasty way to do that; Lacto-fermentation. Open a can of beans, and blend them with some seasonings and fresh onions, herbs and garlic and add a couple tablespoons of yogurt whey with the live lacto-bacillus microbes into the bean puree. Let the mixture stand at room temperature for 3-4 days and the microbes start to eat the sugars/starches of the beans and produce lactic acid which tastes really good and they metabolize other bio-enzymes, acids and some vitamins like C and the Bs. Once the microbes are introduced, do not heat the beans above 116 degrees, or it will kill off the microbes.

1 15 oz can beans, drained
2-3 cloves garlic
1 TBS chopped onion or less
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp. Real Salt
1 tsp. drid basil or fresh
1 TBS or more virgin olive oil
2 TBS whey with live microbes
sprinkle a little cayenne pepper

That's my Tuscan White Bean Ferment dip with some parmesan cheese crackers.

You can do this with home canned salsa and canned beets. It really improves the taste of the salsa and beets and makes them more nutritious. It should work on about all canned foods that you can eat cold or room temperature. I would not try this on fruit as there is too much sugar and the microbes love the sugars but they produce more alcohol than lactic acid.

So, How do you get living microbes? (I have an earlier blog called Lacto-Fermentation) It is simple; just drain yogurt, plain yogurt preferably your own yogurt or a commercial one without thickeners like gelatin and gums. I like goat milk yogurt best. I love the tartness of the goat milk yogurt and the lactose of goat yogurt is mostly consumed by the microbes. This is the same whey that I use for the vegetable ferments I make. (also in that same blog). I sell a cloth strainer for this purpose that is polyester silk screen fabric measuring 11"x 14" that is perfect for separating yogurt solids from the whey. I cleans up easily and dries very fast. It's $5.00....just email me. The yogurt solids taste like sour cream and is creamy in texture and delicious and the whey is sour and full of living microbes. Both keep in the fridge for 3 weeks or more.