Cultures around the world have always eaten lacto-fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, chutneys and relishes. Unfortunately, the proper pickling process has been lost, and along with that, so have the numerous health benefits that go along with it. These days, cucumbers and vinegar are put in a jar, along with preservatives, and called pickles. This process does not do justice to the health benefits of our grandparents' pickles, sauerkraut and other preserved vegetables.
Lacto-fermented vegetables are a way of pickling or preserving vegetables that encourages the proliferation of lactobacilli. This process increases the levels of vitamins and minerals that can be absorbed from the vegetables, while also making them easier to digest. The lactic acid that is produced through the process I will describe below increases the growth of healthy flora in the stomach, leading to remarkably better digestion. Many enzymes and substances that have antibiotic, antiviral and anticarcinogenic substances are produced as well. It is also the prefect preservative to keep your vegetables fresh and delicious.
1 tablespoon, or the equivalent, should be eaten with every meal for those with severely upset stomachs. Others with properly functioning digestive systems will find that eating a tablespoon once a day or a few times a week is enough to see numerous health benefits. In addition to the digestive enhancements mentioned earlier, studies show that eating lacto-fermented foods lowers asthma symptoms, improves skin problems, boosts the immune system and promotes vitality and overall increased wellness.
I chose to use lemon cucumbers for this recipe because my mom brought them from her garden, and I just love them! Don't be fooled by the name--they are a sweet variety of cucumber and only look like a lemon.
8-10 lemon cucumbers
1 tablespoon mustard seed
2 tablespoons dill
1 tablespoon sea salt
4 tablespoons whey (another great time to use your homemade whey!) or an extra tablespoon of sea salt can be substituted
You will need a quart size mason jar
Wash cucumbers and cut them into quarters or eighths. Place them in the jar along with the mustard seed, dill, sea salt and whey. Pour water in the jar until it reaches one inch below the top. Put the lid on tightly and store at room temperature for 2 days. After that, store in the refrigerator. Do not be concerned if you see tiny bubbles formed; that is part of the process. Eat as a condiment with meat, fish, grains or legumes.
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