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Giardiniera - lacto-fermented garden veggies

 
steward
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I fleshed out my method/recipe for giardiniera so that it is novice friendly!


(Image credit Colter and his Fermentation Station thread here!)

Giardiniera

This is a “pickle” or a naturally lacto-fermented mild flavored vegetable combo. Just chop and add brine, no cooking!

Lacto-fermented “pickles” do not have vinegar and work as a probiotic adding healthy bacteria to our guts.

Ingredients
  • cauliflower, 1 head
  • carrot, 1-2 medium size
  • celery, 1-2 stalks
  • red bell pepper, 1
  • red onion, 1
  • sweet bell pepper, to taste - around 4-6 littles, left whole; or include another large bell pepper
  • fresh dill, 1 head + some leaves (dried dill works well, too, +/- 1 T. or to taste)
  • garlic, 2-4 cloves
  • “starter” - +/- 4 tablespoons whey or active sauerkraut brine (see step 3 for more info)
  • salt brine to cover, 1-2 tablespoons salt (preferably not iodized*) per cup of water

  • 1. Start by dissolving your salt in water - you will likely need anywhere from 1 to 2 quarts brine. This can take some stirring and time. If using a less salty salt (kosher or sea salts are less salty than most table salts) use the upper range of salt. If you boil your water to dissolve the salt, make sure your brine is room temperature again before pouring over your veggies.

    2. Chop veggies into pleasing, bite sized shapes and sizes. Leave the dill head whole, if desired; garlic can be whole or chopped though it’s often left whole. Mix veggies in a bowl, then pack into a wide mouth jar with the dill - you might need (at least) one half gallon jar, or two quart sized canning jars.

    3. Add your “starter,” splitting between jars as needed, to make sure you’re inoculating with good lacto-fermentation bacteria, then fill up the jar with brine, making sure the veggies are completely covered. You might need a weight on top of the veggies to keep them submerged in the brine. Veggies poking above the brine can get moldy.

    About “starters:”
    --sauerkraut brine - use either homemade kraut brine or brine from the active cultured kraut in your grocery’s refrigerator section; NOT the canned, shelf stable kind. Using kraut brine keeps your giardiniera vegan and dairy free.
    --whey is the liquid that separates off the top of plain, unsweetened, live cultured yogurt.

    4. Loosely cap your jar of giardiniera, place inside another pan or bowl, and let sit at room temperature, out of direct light, until it acidifies to your liking. In very warm environments, this might only take a day or two. In cooler environments, a week or two is fairly common. The pan or bowl is to catch any overflow from the bacteria doing their work and expanding the brine. Check daily for flavor and to make sure veggies stay submerged. When flavor is lovely to you, store in the fridge or a root cellar. Lacto-fermented foods will keep fermenting slightly / very slowly in the fridge and can be stored in a root cellar for up to six months, and longer in the fridge.


    *There is debate on whether the iodine in iodized salts prevents the lacto-bacteria from doing its good action. I simply prefer the taste of salts that are not iodized in my ferments.


    Any other tips or variations to add?


     
    pollinator
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    Giardinieras are so delicious and your recipe for it looks great! Lactofermented giardiniera is my favourite method of prepping them as well.

    One thing I’d add to your recipe if you want to simplify it further: there’s usually no need to add a starter to a mix of veggies like these. There are already plenty of the necessary bacteria living on the skin of the veggies and your hands (which transfers on the veggies when handling them). Just make sure there’s no chlorine in the water that you’re using for the brine. Ofcourse no harm in kickstarting them if you have a starter at home anyway. But for those who don’t, just know that it is also possible without, it just might take a tad longer. But you have to wait a while anyway for all those delicious flavours to develop :-)
     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    S. Bard wrote:Giardinieras are so delicious and your recipe for it looks great! Lactofermented giardiniera is my favourite method of prepping them as well.

    One thing I’d add to your recipe if you want to simplify it further: there’s usually no need to add a starter to a mix of veggies like these. There are already plenty of the necessary bacteria living on the skin of the veggies and your hands (which transfers on the veggies when handling them). Just make sure there’s no chlorine in the water that you’re using for the brine. Of course no harm in kickstarting them if you have a starter at home anyway. But for those who don’t, just know that it is also possible without, it just might take a tad longer. But you have to wait a while anyway for all those delicious flavours to develop :-)


    I love your tips!

    Yes, cauliflower is in the cole crops / brassicas family that naturally has the right bacteria. I'm just extra careful about using a "starter" because I had gallons (literally gallons!) of onions go moldy because I didn't add a starter and onions do not naturally have the right kind of bacteria on them. So, with onions and other veggies in this mix that are not brassicas, I have usually erred on the side of caution.

    Also, I think if you do have chlorine in your tap water, that boiling it first could do a quick release of the chlorine, do you think? Then the salt dissolves quickly in boiling hot water, but of course make sure the brine returns to room temperature so you don't cook the veggies or kill the good bacteria.

    There are pictures on permies of others making giardiniera and I think it is SO pretty! Post your pics here if you've got them!


     
    S. Bard
    pollinator
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    Boiling indeed helps with the chlorine. I usually just fill a big pot of water and leave it uncovered overnight though (maybe a cheesecloth on top if you have flies in the house). The chlorine evaporates overnight.

    Usually when fermenting veggies that have less of the good bacteria on them, I just add a leaf of cabbage on top. Helps to keep all the floaties down as an added bonus!
    A slice of organic ginger also helps speed up fermentation. And carrots fermented with ginger is a really good flavour combo by the way!!

    Speaking about pretty ferments... not a complete giardiniera, but here’s a salad we made topped with our lactofermented onions and carrots. I just love the colours!
    salad-with-lactofermented-carrots-and-onions.jpeg
    salad with lactofermented carrots and onions
    salad with lactofermented carrots and onions
     
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    I do a lot of lacto fermenting, mainly cucumbers but also veggies.  I just want to remind folks that it is critical to add sufficient salt to your recipe.  Don't attempt to reduce salt for dietary reasons. My minimum is 4 tablespoons of salt in 4 cups of distilled water, but lately I have been upping the salt a bit to 4.5 tablespoons.  The symptoms of too little salt are:  1. Lots of white mold; 2) slimy cucumbers and other veggies; and 3) somewhat peculiar odor or flavor.

    I am happiest when my ferments end up with clear brine and distinct crunchy veggies.  I also stopped experimenting with too many different spices, as it becomes confusing to tell which products are healthy and which are off.   I now mainly use garlic and dill, and a single bay leaf for a quart jar.

    This is just what I do. The USDA site on preservation also has some great information that has been studied thoroughly.  Yes it is possible to get botulism with an improper attempt at fermentation but it is fortunately quite rare.

    I found this site and read every single word of it, it is so interesting and really opened up my a options for making the most of my garden!

    https://nchfp.uga.edu/
     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    S. Bard wrote:Boiling indeed helps with the chlorine. I usually just fill a big pot of water and leave it uncovered overnight though (maybe a cheesecloth on top if you have flies in the house). The chlorine evaporates overnight.


    I have not verified this, but someone said that some water municipalities use a more pervasive type of chlorine these days that doesn't evaporate off easily. I don't know the specifics, but if someone else does, please chime in.

    Paul Houtz wrote:I do a lot of lacto fermenting, mainly cucumbers but also veggies.  I just want to remind folks that it is critical to add sufficient salt to your recipe.  Don't attempt to reduce salt for dietary reasons. My minimum is 4 tablespoons of salt in 4 cups of distilled water, but lately I have been upping the salt a bit to 4.5 tablespoons.  The symptoms of too little salt are:  1. Lots of white mold; 2) slimy cucumbers and other veggies; and 3) somewhat peculiar odor or flavor.


    Welcome to permies, Paul!

    And yes, lots of salt is important. I served some Giadiniera to a workshop group as just a side to a meal and one woman was surprised at how salty it was. I think she was expecting a salad, not a pickle or condiment. Plus, a lot of what people are used to for pickled veg are the canned vinegar type that usually include a lot of sugar. Like sweet pickles. Personally, yuck! Without that sugar, which is of course another type of preservative, it is a more salty product, but I prefer salty over sweet myself.

    As I wrote above, I have had ferments go moldy, even when using lots of salt. For onions, for example, since they do not always naturally have the right bacteria, adding a "starter" to get the right bacteria going made a big difference in my experience.
     
    master gardener
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    I have a brined meat recipe that I adore, but also found it way too salty. There was no way I was going to risk reducing the salt content during the "submerge in brine and leave for a week" period, but when it's done brining and I'm ready to slow cook it (think corned beef, but using Muscovy duck legs), I take out the amount I want to cook and soak it in water for an hour. I dump that water for fresh water and then start the slow cooker.

    If I ended up with a Giardiniera that was too salty, I'd do the same - just rinse or soak the amount I wanted for the meal in fresh water and enjoy it. With the veggies in chunks like the picture, I don't think I'd feel the extra step was too bothersome, and that's a safer option than loosing a whole bottle to mold.
     
    master pollinator
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    Replying to Jocelyn's comment about Chlorine in municipal water: Our water provider switched to chloramination. When it was chlorine only, letting water stand overnight or boiling for a few minutes removed the chlorine. Only a really good water filter will get rid of the chlorine/ammonia blend they now use. It's specifically designed NOT to be able to be easily removed.

    It's bad news for ferments, and also very drying on the skin and hair.
     
    pollinator
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    Jay Angler wrote:I have a brined meat recipe that I adore, but also found it way too salty. There was no way I was going to risk reducing the salt content during the "submerge in brine and leave for a week" period, but when it's done brining and I'm ready to slow cook it (think corned beef, but using Muscovy duck legs), I take out the amount I want to cook and soak it in water for an hour. I dump that water for fresh water and then start the slow cooker.



    Jay, could you share info on brined meat?  This is one thing I have not brined/fermented and would like to try.  

    Bonnie
    Staff note (Jay Angler) :

    Bonnie, start with this link for the recipe and follow it down a few more posts for more info:
    https://permies.com/t/1985/kitchen/recipes-salted-cured-duck#846116

     
    Bonnie Kuhlman
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    One ferment I've just started adding recently is fermented garlic.  With no grocery stores nearby, I need to buy a quantity of garlic to last for awhile (I'll grow it next year).  It often doesn't keep until the next grocery trip.  So, I decided to just ferment a couple of jars full and keep in the fridge to use as needed.  So far, I love it.  It keeps well, and is peeled and ready to use, but SO much better than the ready-peeled you buy at the store.
     
    Jay Angler
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    Bonnie Kuhlman wrote:One ferment I've just started adding recently is fermented garlic.  With no grocery stores nearby, I need to buy a quantity of garlic to last for awhile (I'll grow it next year).  It often doesn't keep until the next grocery trip.  So, I decided to just ferment a couple of jars full and keep in the fridge to use as needed.  So far, I love it.  It keeps well, and is peeled and ready to use, but SO much better than the ready-peeled you buy at the store.

    I grow my own garlic, but in my climate it still doesn't keep reliably past January. Sometime when I have my oven on for other reasons, I bake a bunch of it just in a little water in a covered casserole dish. I peel it and freeze it. I love using baked garlic in things like pesto and hummus, as it seems that my stomach doesn't tolerate raw garlic anymore. It would be interesting to try it on lacto-fermented garlic to see if it makes a difference.
     
    pollinator
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    Bonnie Kuhlman wrote:One ferment I've just started adding recently is fermented garlic.  With no grocery stores nearby, I need to buy a quantity of garlic to last for awhile (I'll grow it next year).  It often doesn't keep until the next grocery trip.  So, I decided to just ferment a couple of jars full and keep in the fridge to use as needed.  So far, I love it.  It keeps well, and is peeled and ready to use, but SO much better than the ready-peeled you buy at the store.



    I also like to do this, the garlic is mellower and the garlic brine is a great flavor boost in any recipe where you might use some garlic.
     
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