I have a question about fermenting wild plants ...I am new to fermenting so please bare with my ignorance.
I have started sow thistle, dandelion, and nettle (in different ferms) ... They have been going for four days in a room at 13c. My question is do they become tender - at the moment they all taste interesting but they are all tough.
My other question is how do I deal with stuff that floats - I seem to have to keep removing plant bits ... so at this rate I may end up with no fermented plant!
There are plenty more questions but let's see what info someone can give a newbie.
Fermenting could mean a few things - what I do with fermenting is sauerkraut and beer!
What you describe sounds sorta like making tea or a tincture.
If you are looking for alcohol - make sure there is yeast and sugar. I do herb beer, low ABC where I can brew with grain and in the boil, at the very end, add a cheese cloth bag full of herbs. I just have to be careful of the temps! Is this what you are trying to do?
My experience of fermenting fibrous vegetable parts in the hopes that they would soften up is -- nope, they didn't. I did find that peeled watermelon rind, which is too hard to eat raw (not fibrous though), softened up nicely in a vinegar based (non-fermented) pickle, and became nice and crunchy.
However I haven't tried fermenting any of the plants you mentioned, so you should give them a try, and then get back to us and let us know how they turned out!
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.
Thanks for responding.
Randy I am not into fermenting alcohol and beer, I am trying to find ways of preserving the food plants that are local to me here in deepest France. But I like the idea of tinctures ... or more precisely, foods that heal.
Rebecca, the ferments have been going for some days now, and there has been no change in the stringiness of them except the rocket. I guess I picked the nettles and sow thistle too late ... or the leaves were too mature. So I will wait until there are young leaves (probably early Spring). But for now I am resigning myself to buying organic begs whilst the garden takes shape (which it is ... at an amazing speed! Radishes might be the first real crop ... but they will probably be eaten fresh. In the meantime I am trying to learn what to lacto ferment, what to ferment with sourdough, and maybe try and get a little piece of miso to give me a yield of yeast culture (yes, I know its koji ... which is not local ... but hey, its in my fridge asking to be cultured!).
But you both might be able to answer another question ... can I use/cook with any soak water, (from soaking nuts or pulses) or does it contain stuff that should be got rid of?
Bonjour, Tim! I'll share the little bit of experience I have. I don't know which part of the dandelion you're fermenting. I've fermented the buds. I think that this is where I got the idea, but there are a number of sites giving ideas on how to do this. http://hungerandthirstforlife.blogspot.ca/2011/04/wild-things-in-april-dandelion.html I didn't actually like the taste, but my friend sure did. If you do this-- and the best time of year to do this is when the buds are just forming at the base of the plant--you'll know if they're ready when you taste them.
With regards to the floating problem, many people use a weight to push down the food. There are pickling weights available on the internet, but they're expensive. I've also filled a ziplock bag with brine (in case the bag should leak) and used that as a weight, but then I realized that chemicals might leech out of the plastic, so I did away with that. If you can find a stone almost as big as the jar opening, scrub it and use that. With other vegetables, I've used a large cabbage leaf to push the food down below the brine, and then used a weight to keep it all down. Even a big cabbage leaf on its own might do the trick.
Regarding the dandelions, I used somewhat mature leaves (I just love the bitter taste especially in salads). But I think that because the flowers had already gone perhaps then maybe it was not a good idea to try them. The end result was that they were too fibrous and the flavour was ... totally alien and slightly unpleasant. However, I have another idea which will be fermenting the roots (I have eaten them boiled and that tasted good) ... I just need to find enough healthy specimens.
The nettles did not work either ...WOW did they stink! Yet the flavour was almost pleasant ... I simply could not bring myself to present them on the table - the smell would have driven away EVERYBODY!
But the rocket remains viable. The flavour and texture is good ... unfortunately, I put too much salt in, so I am going to leave it in cold storage for a few months and then taste it and see.
Hi, Tim. I'd never fermented soft leafy greens, thinking that they'd end up mushy. But I was thinking that it made sense to ferment the root. They say it's healthy and I thought it might become crunchy. So I did a little research, and didn't find fermented dandelion root, but I did find this recipe from someone like you who likes to experiment.
And then your idea got me thinking of the burdock plants that have taken root it my yard, and which I'm told are almost impossible to eradicate. I know the root is considered a health food. I did some research and found this recipe for burdock carrot kimchi. If I decide to dig up the root to try to eradicate it, I'll ferment it. Thanks for the idea.
Yes there is burdock in our area, and yes we intend try a ferment one day. The fact is that there are many wild foods on our land and in the woods, it is a challenge to know where to start. But for now I need to get to know what can be eaten, stored, fermented, dried ... then the fun will increase!