Ferment It : Carrots

I don’t know about you, but I HATE wasting food. I have a long-standing struggle with keeping carrots; I love them, but can’t seem to keep them fresh. When I was a kid, we never refrigerated them, and yet they seemed to last forever. As an adult, I’ve kept them out of refrigeration and they dry out and shrivel up. Refrigerated, they turn soft and limp. I read somewhere to store them in sand. That didn’t work either. And it really kills me when it’s my own garden carrots that go to waste. This year I left them in the ground for as long as possible, then gave them a quick rinse and stored them in an open plastic bag in the fridge. That technique seemed to help, but still, I didn’t want to waste ANY.

The Solution: Fermentation

A co-worker had shared his ginger carrots with me and I was hooked. Different than canning to preserve food, fermentation relies on the naturally occurring, good bacteria that are found in plants and soil to preserve our food. By providing the right environment for these bacteria to survive and thrive, they break down some of what might cause the food to spoil, and extend the shelf life of those foods for up to a year, depending on the food.

So with that information in hand, I grated my carrots, as well as a bit of fresh ginger. Added a pinch of sea salt and a mason jar and I was all set. Success!

Ginger carrots are delicious, both on their own and in other dishes (even added to chili), and there’s no rush to eat them.

The nice thing about fermenting is that your measurements don’t need to be exact. It’s all about creating the right environment for those good bacteria to do their job. Want to make your own ginger carrots? Here’s the recipe:

Ginger Carrots

4 cups shredded carrots, tightly packed
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sea salt

Mix the carrots, ginger, and salt in a large bowl.

Pound with a mallet or meat pounder until the carrots begin to release juices.

Pack the carrots into two 1-qt mason jars (wide mouth is easier).

Pack tightly until the juices rise over the top of the carrots. Add some filtered water if necessary to cover the carrots. Leave about 1 inch of headroom in the jars. Cover the jars tightly and let the carrots ferment at room temperature for about 3 days (out of direct sunlight).

Burp the jars (loosen the lid) after 3 days–you should see some bubbles when you loosen the lids.

Tightly covered, carrots will keep up to 1-year in the refrigerator.

By: Linda Davey is the Manager at Independent Fermentations Supply in Plymouth, MA. With more than 30 years’ experience working in the food service industry, Linda still enjoys learning about and experimenting with various methods of food preparation, including fermentation.

About eSS&SC

The South Shore and South Coast has been home to hunting, gathering, fishing, farming––and great eating––for over 10,000 years. We are committed to identifying, devouring, and sharing all that Southeastern Massachusetts has to offer today and preserving local options for future generations.
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