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52 Weeks of Bad A** Bacteria – Week 3 – Lacto-Fermented Ginger Carrots


Lacto-Fermented Ginger Carrots Follow Me on Pinterest

UPDATE 7/26/12: I no longer use whey as a starter for my ferments (learn why here). I also no longer use Mason jars for my ferments (learn why here). I use Fidos and Pickl-Its exclusively and the improvement in the taste and texture of my ferments is unbelievable! I encourage everyone to take a look at the information regarding Mason jar ferments and come to a decision that best fits their family. I will be releasing updated versions of these recipes soon, as it applies to the Fido and Pickl-It jars.

Welcome to Week 3 of the 52 Weeks of Bad A** Bacteria series. This week, I decided to dive into one of the most popular lacto-fermented foods — ginger carrots. If you’re new to fermented vegetables, this is a great way to introduce them to your palate. The flavor is mild, sweet, and a little warm from the ginger. Carrots are typically in season in the summer and fall and you’ll get the most flavorful varieties then. They are one of the veggies that I buy out of season, especially in the winter when I’m making lots of stock and stew. I had a 5 pound bag in my fridge and I decided that it was the perfect recipe to make this week.

The Common Carrot

We’re used to seeing carrots in orange, but did you know they do come in yellow, purple, red, and white? These varieties can usually be found at your seasonal farmers markets and they are wonderful. As a matter of fact, did you know that yellow, red, and purple carrots were the only varieties available before the 17th century?

In regards to nutrition, carrots do pack a good punch. In a 10 year study in the Netherlands, it was discovered that while all vegetable are important in preventing heart disease, vegetables in the orange and yellow families are the best. Carrots are typically known for their carotenoids, which act like antioxidents, but they also have another special phytonutrient called polyacetylenes. Some studies are showing that these specific nutrients play a roll in preventing colon cancer cell growth. There is a strong link between the carotenoids and the polyacetylenes regarding their ability to prevent oxidative damage in the body. I always say, it’s important to get our nutrition from our food, rather than supplements. If you were to take these two nutrients separately, then you would not gain the full benefit of them because they need to work synergistically to do their job.

Carrots are very high in beta-carotene, which is the precursor to vitamin A. Beta-carotene, which is found in many other vegetables, has to be converted in the intestines into vitamin A. If the body already has enough vitamin A floating around, then the conversion decreases as your body naturally regulates your vitamin levels. You cannot become toxic from beta-carotene, or food-based vitamin A, unlike synthetic vitamin A, which is dangerous. It is important to note that vitamin A from plant sources is not ideal. Because of the conversion that has to take place, it often is ineffective and you don’t get as much benefit from plant-based vitamin A as you do from meat-based (primarily organ meats) vitamin A.

Things Are Going Great, And Then ….

… there was mold!

GAH!

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LF Ginger Carrots with Mold

Yes. I had my very first experience with fermented food and mold this week. It took me by surprise. In all of the stuff I’ve fermented over the years, I’ve never once had mold. Yet, when I went to check my jar of carrots, I pulled it off the shelf and low and behold, the top layer was a grayish white and there was a big clump of mold near the side of the jar. I immediately felt disappointed and slightly upset (though, I know this is just part of the process sometimes!). At the same time, I was happy that I had only made a tiny batch, so it wasn’t like I had to toss a ton. About 2 cups total probably. To top it off, I had tried to do a grapefruit version of last week’s LF orange juice and I ended up with mold on it too! Sigh. Apparently, it was not my week for fermenting. Good thing I had lots of kombucha and LF garlic to get me through!

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LF Grapefruit Juice with Mold

Not sure how I got mold, considering I’ve never had it happen before. I sanitized the jar and the lid before I put the ginger carrots in there. The only explanation is that there was not enough liquid covering the carrots and it allowed mold to start growing. If I had weighted the carrots down with something, then they would have stayed submerged below the liquid and they would have been fine. But, alas, I learned a valuable lesson and I have already started changing my process for future ferments. In fact, I was fortunate enough to meet one of my readers this last week when I delivered a scoby to her so she could start brewing her own kombucha, and she surprised me by giving me an airlock jar for my ferments. I’m so excited to try it! Anyone here used an airlock?

For those of you who want to try the ginger carrots, they really are delicious, despite my fuzzy escapade this week. I made a batch about a year ago and they were quite tasty. Here is the recipe I followed, which is out of Nourishing Traditions.

Important note: Make sure you check each day to see if the liquid is covering the carrots. If not, press the carrots back down so they are submerged. This is where I messed up. The carrots were completely out of the liquid. Sandor Katz (author of Wild Fermentation – if you haven’t read it, I HIGHLY recommend it), uses weights of some sort to keep the top of the veggies submerged. I’m going to have to play with this and see what works. I’ll report back in next week’s post.

So, there you go. Have you had any experience with molds in your fermented foods? Have you ever used an airlock? Have you used weights of some sort on your ferments to keep the vegetables submerged? I’d love to hear your feedback!

Natural Fermenation Crocks and Supplies
Sources: WHFoods.com – “Carrots” | Nourishing Traditions, page 95 | World Carrot Museum

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About Jessica Espinoza

Jessica is a real food nut, coconut everything enthusiast, avid reader and researcher, blossoming yogi, and animal lover. She has had a life-long passion for food and being in the kitchen is where she is the happiest. Jessica started Delicious Obsessions in 2010 as a way to help share her love for food and cooking. Since then, it has grown into a trusted online resource with a vibrant community of people learning to live healthy, happy lives through real food and natural living.

Discussion

17 comments

  1. I just made ginger carrots last week! I made mine a little different though. The grated carrots didn’t appeal to me, so I cut them into matchsticks & then cut the ginger into itty bitty matchsticks. I did the salt & whey as usual. They turned out really awesome! I will definitely be doing these again. Here’s my blog post with a pic of them. http://lovelykillerbee.blogspot.com/2012/01/real-food-journey-theres-something.html

    reply 

    Debbie
    Posted 01/23/12

    • Hi Debbie – Thanks for stopping by! Glad yours turned out tasty! I am finding this whole process so much fun. It’s like one big science experiment in my kitchen with all these things fermenting and culturing. My hubby just laughs at all the concoctions I have sitting around! I’m going to go check out your blog right now! :)

      reply 

      Jessica
      Posted 01/24/12

      • Hi Jessica! Thanks for popping over to my blog. :) In response to your question, it just so happens that the regular mouth size plastic Ball jar lids fit just perfectly into the wide mouth Ball jars. It’s not my ideal thing to use, but for now, it works well. I was thinking of looking for old glass flower frogs to use as weights. I wish I knew somebody who did glass work to make me something custom for my ferments. :)

        reply 

        Debbie
        Posted 01/26/12

        • Wouldn’t that be nice? Have custom fermenting tools made? :) I’ll have to look and see if I have any regular size plastic mason jar lids anywhere. We sure have to get creative for our ferments, huh?

          reply 

          Jessica
          Posted 01/27/12

        • CulturesforHealth.com sells really nice glass fermenting weights. I bought two sets and use them all the time. I bought the bigger ones.

          reply 

          Jeanmarie
          Posted 01/06/14

  2. Jessica,

    My two bits.

    Those carrots are definitely in the mold zone (out of the liquid). Also, any floating “islands” of particulate matter on top of the juice, especially citrus which is already mold friendly, is a likely problem. I’ve seen it happen with pickled lemons. One solution would be to screw the lid on tightly and give the juice a shake once a day, loosening the lid when you’re done. Before the mold gets a toehold, of course.

    Also, different fruits and vegetables have different acidities and alkalinities, so the amount of salt added affects the environment differently. You might want to look into basic pickling chemistry (usually it’s a matter of percentage salt in solution). For instance, where some recipes call for 1 tbs. salt per 500ml jar pickle, root vegetables like radish and carrot, in other words starchy, call for 2 tbs. to keep fermentation safe, because of the by-products of starch metabolism, etc. I see you only use 1 tbs salt.

    Also, whey does not counteract a tbs of salt, it’s just a failsafe for fermentation as far as I can tell, though it does contain some lactic acid. But adding lactic acid isn’t the same as creating it inside the vegetable cells through natural fermentation. I avoid whey because it is full of different strains of bacteria and yeast than naturally started pickle is populated with. It also an animal product, so vegans beware. Anyway, the salt is important to making the environment good for the good critters and bad for the bad. Think of the jar as an ecology or environmental niche and you start to see that lacto-pickling is not just a recipe thing, it’s a balanced microcosm thing.

    Lastly, you might want to consider adding some of the classic and helpful spices to your mixes. Mustard, black pepper, cinnamon, clove, and other “antiseptic” spices have been used forever to help insure the fermentation goes to the good guys, not just for the interesting flavors they impart. For instance, I put caraway seeds in my carrots. I’ve got a batch fermenting along nicely right now.

    Good luck!

    reply 

    Jack
    Posted 01/23/12

    • Hi Jack! Thanks for all your tips/suggestions! Much appreciated! It’s all one big, fun science experiment :)

      reply 

      Jessica
      Posted 01/24/12

  3. We’ve had mold when veggies weren’t completely submerged. Usually you can scrape it off and it’s ok to eat the ferment beneath the liquid level.

    With our sauerkraut we use another smaller jar as a weight. You can see the picture of how it works in our sauerkraut day 2 post.

    reply 
    • Hi Joy! Good to hear from you! I looked at your pic and that’s exactly what I’m doing with this week’s ferment. I am experimenting with a set up like that and then an airlock on a separate jar as well. I won’t be making the same mistake again in regards to not keeping the veggies covered. I bet if I had scraped it off, it would have been fine because it didn’t smell bad. Also, I’ve stopped using whey in my ferments after reading your post and then reading Sandor’s book. I’m going to write up a post about it here too. Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

      reply 

      Jessica
      Posted 01/24/12

  4. Neither your recipe or the one in NT says whether or not one should peel the carrots. Do I need the skin on for beneficial bacteria, or is it better to take it off?

    reply 

    livesimplylovestrongly
    Posted 01/29/12

    • Hi there. Good question! If the carrots are organic, I typically leave the skins on. I scrub the carrots with my veggie brush first, just to get most of the dirt off, but if there’s a little on there, it’s not going to hurt. It might actually help! :)

      reply 

      Jessica
      Posted 01/29/12

  5. Another way to avoid mold without using weights or an airlock jar is to simply press the mixture three times a day until it has reached the level of fermentation you like. This releases the gas that pushes things into the “mold zone”

    reply 

    Adrienne
    Posted 01/29/12

  6. I made these the other day following NT recipe. I used whey and less salt because on another blog, I saw that many people felt they were too salty. I shredded the carrots and the ginger.

    My problem isn’t mold, it’s slime. Ugh! The carrots and fermenting juice is slightly slimely, like mini carrots will get if they’ve been left in the frig too long. Any thoughts on why that would have happened and what to do to avoid it in the future.

    p.s. I’m intrigued as to why not use whey. I’ll be following your links to explain!

    reply 

    Julie
    Posted 02/11/13

    • Hi Julie – So sorry for the delay in responding. I always had issues with slime when I would make the shredded ginger carrots. It would totally gross me out!

      reply 

      Jessica
      Posted 03/21/13

  7. Re: custom glass molds. Look into your yellow pages, there are many people around that do custom glass moldings. If you buy in quantity >25 you mostly get a darn good price.

    -John

    reply 

    John
    Posted 03/15/13

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