Swiss Chard Culture (A Recipe)
Here’s the recipe I mentioned in my post about using large quantities of spring greens. Perhaps this combination sounds disgusting to you. I mean, eating lots of green leafy vegetables is already an unappealing thought to some folks. But, if you are an eater of greens, or if you like garlic, or if you’re a lover of food adventures, you might really want to give this a try!
Cultured, also known as lacto-fermented, foods are super nutritious, by virtue of their large quantities of beneficial bacteria. (The “lacto” portion of the word refers to lactic acid, not lactose– no worries about milk sugar here!) If you’re familiar with the live culture in yogurt, you already know of one example.
There are many, many different strains of these wonderful little critters alive and well, ready to assist us in our quest for optimum health. Once you manage to proliferate these micro-organisms in your gut, your health can experience a dramatic boost for the better. There’s a lot to learn on this subject; and I am currently working on a small book that will elaborate on the topic as well as provide numerous recipes. This is a foretaste, I suppose.
What you need:
A clean glass jar with a lid. I used a quart jar with a wide mouth. Quantities mentioned here are appropriate to the quart size, but adjust according to your jar(s).
A couple of hands full of Swiss chard, cut into 1-2 inch squarish pieces
A handful or 2 of spinach, cut as you like
A couple of carrots, sliced or diced
An onion (any color), chopped
A couple cloves of garlic, minced
Apple, diced (remove core) The apples I used were tiny, so I used 3.
Salt or brine from a previous batch
What you do:
I layered the ingredients in the jar, pressing them down with my fist as I went along. This was so that I would know exactly how much to use. It’s important to fill the jar to within about an inch of the top.
Next, I dumped all of the veggies into a large bowl in order to mix well. When mixed, begin putting the veggies back into the jar. If you are using salt, sprinkle salt over the veggies after you’ve filled the jar about an inch (when pressed down), and every inch thereafter.
Once your jar is full, add the brine, if you have some. About 1/4 cup is what I put in. Then top off with water. You’ll want to use a total of about 1 tsp salt if you are not using brine. The salt or the brine will keep the pathogenic bacteria from overwhelming the beneficial bacteria. If you are using brine, your recipe will culture more quickly, as you are starting off with good bacteria to begin with.
Now, to finish, you want to make sure that your produce is completely submerged in water/brine. I sometimes just seal it up with a lid and turn it upside down and back daily. Sometimes I open the jar and press the veggies down with clean fingers, which also gives me the opportunity to taste and see how it’s coming along. For this ferment, I used a glass with a diameter slightly smaller than the jar opening. I put some water in the glass for weight. Then, I pushed the glass down into the jar, to keep the veggies submerged.
Keep in mind that the liquid will bubble, and if the lid is on and not enough room is allowed at the top, it may leak. It’s okay! Even if you find mold growing on top (which only will happen if you don’t keep stuff submerged), you can remove the mold & top layer and what’s underneath will stay fine. I have heard from numerous sources that if your ferment actually goes bad, it will smell so bad that nothing could persuade you to put it into your mouth. Here is some more info on fermentation from one of my favorite health guys, Dr. Mercola, as well as another method of making these recipes. (Click here.)
This recipe is great with meat or fish, or in soups. I especially like it in bean soups. Put a little pile on top of a handful of baby greens and you have a fine side salad. Enjoy!