TODO Austin June 2011

Page 14

tengo hambre


La Guerilla | photo Mari Hernandez

Promoter Lisa Wood and Ozomatli’s Raúl Pacheco | photo Erica Stall Wiggins

There are many methods of food preservation, but most of us are familiar with the term pickling. We enjoy commercially pickled onions, peppers, cucumbers, cabbage, and even fish. Condiments like ketchup and mustard that are made in this way. They are salty, sour, and sometimes spicy and often satisfy our cravings. However, there is a lesser known method of pickling that is available to us and is worthy of recognition, not only for its simplicity, but also its nutritional benefits and cultural significance throughout history. This method is called lacto-fermentation and it is a universal practice.

preserved. The vegetables are washed, mixed with salt and other spices, and then pounded briefly in order to release juices. This mixture is then pressed into an airtight container and left at room temperature for the first few days of fermentation. The salt inhibits spoiling until enough lactic acid is produced to preserve the food for several months. It is the naturally occurring lactobacilli found on the surface of all living things, in particular the roots and leaves of plants, that are responsible for the alchemy that takes place once fermentation begins. Their main bi-product, lactic acid, is a natural preservative that inhibits putrefying bacteria, therefore preventing spoilage. It is this proliferation of lactobacilli that enhances digestibility and vitamin content in lacto-fermented vegetables and fruits while simultaneously producing numerous helpful enzymes. These are the characteristics that set lactofermentation apart from other food preservation methods. When foods are preserved in this way nutrient enhancing bacteria are allowed to flourish, benefiting the consumer in ways that commercially pickled products are incapable of doing. The flavor, aromas, and richness of these condiments in comparison to their commercial counterparts also cannot be understated. It is delightfully obvious that one is consuming a superior and vital product. And the body will crave more.

KUT’s Laurie Gallardo and Maneja Beto’s Alec Padron (center) with Baldomero Valdez and Erica Barton of Faceless Werewolves (far left and far right) | photo Erica Stall Wiggins


SAUERKRAUT Traditionally lacto-fermented foods include the European sauerkraut, Korean kimchi and many Indian chutneys made with fruits and spices. Relishes and pickled cucumbers are good American examples of this practice and all were originally lacto-fermented before the rise of the industrial revolution. Because lacto-fermentation is an artisan craft and the results are not always predictable, it was ultimately abandoned with the industrialization of the pickling process.

Ozomatli | photo Mari Hernandez Artist Mary Jane Garza and the MACC’s Herlinda Zamora and Linda I. Crockett photo Erica Stall Wiggins

TODO Executive Editor Erica Stall Wiggins and Karl Anderson

14 TODO Austin // JUNE 2011 //

Vinegar is now used for the brine and the final product is pasteurized using high temperatures that kill off any beneficial lactic acid producing bacteria. These bacteria are called lactobacilli and when consumed on a regular basis they aide in digestion of food and promote the growth of healthy intestinal flora. They also produce a multitude of helpful enzymes and antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic substances.

Michelle Valles & Mary Sanchez photo Erica Stall Wiggins

Lacto-fermented fruits and vegetables are typically consumed as condiments together with meats, fish, and grains. The main three ingredients in a lacto-fermented condiment are salt, water and the vegetable or fruit that is to be

1 medium cabbage, cored and shredded 1 tablespoon caraway seeds 2 tablespoons sea salt MIX ALL INGREDIENTS IN A LARGE BOWL. Pound with a wooden mallet or meat hammer for 10 minutes to release juices. Place in a quart-sized wide-mouth mason jar and press down firmly with the mallet or meat hammer until juices come to the top of the cabbage. The top of the cabbage should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for 3 days before transferring to the refrigerator. The sauerkraut may be eaten immediately, but it improves with age. After the jar has been opened, the sauerkraut should keep for several months. One great thing about lactofermentation is that there is no mistaking when spoiling has occurred. The smell would be repulsive enough to discourage anyone from consuming it.

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