Lactic acid bacteria fermentation is a transformative, almost alchemic, process that can be applied to most vegetables. If vegetables are submerged in water and deprived of oxygen, the bacteria on the vegetables initiate fermentation; adding a small percentage of salt helps draw out additional water from the vegetables and creates a natural brine. Salt also produces a selective environment that narrows the range of other bacteria, giving the salt-tolerant lactic acid bacteria the advantage. This helps keep the vegetables crisp and inhibits surface moulds. Sliced or shaved vegetables plus salt, plus an oxygen-deprived environment, plus time, equals preservation but—more importantly for my uses—it also creates depth of flavour.
Dissolve the salt in the mineral water and put the liquid into the sterilised preserving jar. Have a large bowl of iced water at the ready with plenty of ice in it.
Peel the scorzonera one at a time and quickly submerge in the iced water to ensure it doesn’t oxidise and discolour. Remove one root at a time and, using a vegetable peeler, peel into long strips and immediately resubmerge them in the ice. Once all the scorzonera is peeled into strips, drain briefly on a clean kitchen cloth and put it into the salt water solution in the jar.
Place a sterilised plastic dariole mould in the top of the jar and close the lid. This ensures the strips remain submerged in the liquid. Close the lid tightly. Store at room temperature in your store cupboard or pantry. A minimum of 2 weeks is required for a good flavour to develop but this will store for months, unopened.
Refrigerate when opened. Ensure no mould growth is present on the scorzonera.
© 2014 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.