Preserve the flavours of summer…with a little help from your bacterial friends!

Preserve the flavours of summer…with a little help from your bacterial friends!

  • Healthy Eating

  • By Desiree Nielsen, Registered Dietitian

    Living in Vancouver, we are lucky to enjoy local produce all year long…but nothing quite compares to the bounty of summer. While our farmers’ markets are stocked with apples, greens and root veggies most of the year, now is when they explode in a riot of colour and flavour. It’s such a treat to take a stroll with my family around the lakeside market near my home. We come home with full bellies, arms weighed down with our market treasures.

    Where winter is about hearty sustenance, summer is about tantalizing your taste buds. Luscious berries, fragrant apricots and perfectly plump tomatoes are all too fleeting pleasures. If you love food like I love food, you’ll want to do everything you can to make those flavours last.

    Take a page from your grandmother’s cookbook…and get preserving. Jams and sauces are a great way to preserve summer’s flavour but have you thought about fermenting?

    Unlike pickling with vinegar, lacto-fermentation harnesses the beneficial bacteria found on produce to transform the flavour, texture and even nutrition of food. Fermentation boosts our intake of beneficial bacteria, helps make certain nutrients more bio-available and produces organic acids that help support digestive and immune system health.

    Intrigued? You might be surprised to know that it’s really easy to get fermenting. Fermentation usually begins with a liberal application of salt. Salt acts to inhibit the growth of mould and harmful bacteria until the salt-tolerant lacto-bacteria start multiplying. As lacto-bacteria grow, the acidity of the ferment increases, which acts as a natural preservative…meaning that fermented veggies can survive at room temperature for days, if not weeks! The key is ensuring that the veggies are totally submerged in liquid, so they stay oxygen free.

    You can turn almost any vegetable (and even experiment with fruit!) into a fermented pickle or sauerkraut and then can it for longer term storage. If you are not a skilled canner, work with someone who is…or better yet, take a class! It is simple to do but you need to know a few tricks to ensure that harmful bacteria don’t grow in the sealed vessel.

    Summer is such a feast for the senses…this year, why not try and preserve that feast with a little help from your bacterial friends?

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    Desiree Nielsen Registered Dietitian
    About the author
    Desiree Nielsen is a registered dietitian, author and host of the vegetarian cooking sshow, The Urban Vegetarian. Desiree takes an evidence-based, integrative approach to her dietetics work, with a focus on anti-inflammatory, plant-centredcentered nutrition and digestive health.
    View all articles by Desiree Nielsen
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