Fermenting vegetables is an old preservation method making a comeback. Tasty, healthy foods can be made with common ingredients and a little knowledge. In the photo above are the materials and ingredients for a fermented pint of beans. Four of the items are from my garden: yellow beans, garlic, dill, and grape leaves. Above the yellow beans is kefir being strained through cheesecloth. A rubber band holds the cheesecloth to a canning funnel and the whey is being caught in a pint jar. Plain yogurt could be used instead of kefir. Both contain beneficial live bacteria that will get a fermentation started. The other items are water, sea salt, cheesecloth, marbles, a mason jar and a coffee filter.
I started by putting the garlic clove and dill sprig into the clean pint mason jar. The washed yellow beans are snapped to length and added to the jar. I keep basic brine in a quart jar in the fridge. It is 3 tablespoons of salt to a quart of water. I poured the brine to cover the beans. I added about a tablespoon of whey to get the culture going. Next I pressed the beans under the brine with the grape leaves and weighted those with marbles to keep the beans submerged. The grape leaves also provide tannic acid and help keep veggies crispy longer in fermentations.
All that’s left is to cover with cheesecloth or coffee filter and secure it with a band. The fermentation needs air and the cheesecloth or filter allows that and keeps out flies. Placing it on a saucer is a good idea because the brine is near the top and may bubble over or wick out a bit. This needs to stay on a counter or shelf at room temperature for several days at least. A daily check for bubbling over or formation of white scum to skim off the surface is good practice. After 5 days I’ll do a taste test and transfer to the fridge when it tastes sour enough. Refrigerator temp will halt the fermentation.
The beans I did last year were at their best with one week on the counter then one to four in the fridge. They will continue to be safe to eat longer than that but gradually lose their crispiness. I like them when they have a little crunch. And finally a thank you to Hilda. Her “Along the Grapevine” blog is where I got the idea to weight down the grape leaves with marbles.