Preserving lemons by lacto-fermentation…
This growing season our little tree produced more lemons than we physically knew what to do with. We gave a ton away to neighbors, used them everyday and still that little tree was popping them out like gum balls.
Lemons are essential in our house. Every morning I squeeze and entire lemon in my husbands water for the day.
Today, we are going to be discussing how to preserve lemons, specifically by fermenting them. This process creates a lacto- fermentation which, is not only going to preserve your lemons and provide you with a longer shelf life but it is going to provide you with much needed probiotics for your gut.
The process of fermentation
The process of fermentation is really quite incredible and all you need to have is salt to do it. Fermentation is the chemical breakdown of an organic mass by bacteria and yeast. When you harvest something from your garden, it contains all sorts of beautiful natural bacteria that you want. And when you ferment it, the yeast that is already present in the air works with the bacteria to create the fermentation process by breaking down the organic mass in a way that allows your body to digest it with ease.
There are different types of fermentations. Some ferments require yeast which, produce alcohol ferments like wine and beer and kombucha. There are vinegar ferments that produce acetic-acid bacteria. And lacto-ferments, which will will be discussing today. All fermentation though is creating using the natural bacterias and yeast in the air.
What is “lacto” fermentation?
The term “lacto” fermentation is the process of breaking down the natural sugars in foods in an anaerobic environment (lack of oxygen) to produce lactic acid. This type of fermenting is done with the help of the bacteria, lactobacillus and usually involves a brine or with the help of a SCOBY which, is a Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast. Some lacto-fermented foods items are pickles, sauerkraut, sour cream, and even kefir.
You can ferment almost any food, you can read a little more about fermentation here. Today, we are going to be fermenting lemons and the process couldn’t be easier.
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How to lacto-ferment lemons
What you need: For a quart size mason jar you will use 5 teaspoons of salt.
Lemons (about 5-6 will fit in a quart size jar)
Sea salt (non-iodized) 5 tsp
Mason jar with lid
Step 1. Wash lemons. and cut in an X but be sure to not go all the way through. You want your lemon to still be connected at the bottom.
Step 2. Slightly open your lemons and sprinkle a pinch-ful of salt inside. Place your lemon inside your jar. Continue until all lemons are salted and in your jar.
Step 3. You may find yourself smashing down your lemons, this is good. By smashing them down you will release their natural juice and this will create a brine and the right environment we want for fermentation. You want your lemons to be submerged as much as possible so if you have to add another lemon to fill the space in your jar, add another lemon.
Step 4. Place a lid on your jar and leave out on your counter for one week. Everyday flip your jar. This will help decrease the possibility of mold forming on top.
Step 5. After a week of leaving your lemons out on the counter and flipping your jar, place your jar in the fridge for one month. After one month your lemons are good to eat. They will store nicely for up to 6 months in the fridge, if not longer. Always use your best judgment, use your nose for any off putting smell and your eyes for any signs of mold.
How to use your lemons
When you use your lemons, you are actually going to use the whole rind. This is where all the flavor is. Some people remove the “meat” part of the lemon but I find it doesn’t really make that bit of difference.
Some ways you can use your lemon are:
In your water. I place a wedge in my water and add a little bit of juice from the jar. It is a bit salty but it is also sour and to me that just makes it so refreshing.
In your dinner. You could slice up the rind and use it in your dishes like roasted chicken or any fish dish.
Any way you use lemon. Honestly, you could use it just like you would use a lemon any other day. Have fun with it.
What are some ways you could think of to use facto-fermented lemons? Leave your thoughts or comments below!