This is our basic recipe for making lacto-fermented green beans using a brine pickling method that does not involve high heat or canning methods.
These are fermented or "cultured" using a pink salt water brine and a probiotic culture starter rather than vinegar. The beans, after being fully submerged within this liquid for about 4-7 days (depending on room temperature), produce a crisp dill-pickled green bean.
This technique, in our opinion, is a much healthier option over home-canning as nutrients, enzymes and valuable probiotics for healthy gut flora are not destroyed in the process.
The lacto-fermentation method we use in the recipe below is one that
cultures, pickles and preserves the green beans through the actions of
lactic-acid bacteria (LABs). Some of which are naturally present on the
green bean itself, in addition to the ones added via a probiotic
supplement or culture starter.
While adding these probiotic powders is not a popular method in most lacto-fermented green bean recipes, we like to include them to help initiate, encourage and boost the development of LAB strain activity.
You can use any high quality probiotic supplement or acidophilus powder, like Jarrow Formulas Jarro-Dolphilus or Body Ecology Veggie Culture Starter is another one we highly recommend.
Essentially, these bacteria help to convert the starch or sugar content into lactic acid, a natural pickling agent and food preservative. This process over the next several days will continue to enhance enzyme content as well as beneficial microflora.
This anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment supports the growth of desirable lactic acid bacteria, but eliminates pathogenic bacteria and mold contamination that require oxygen to thrive.
According to the "Agriculture and Consumer Protection" branch of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, "the whole basis of lactic acid fermentation centers on the ability of lactic acid bacteria to produce acid, which then inhibits the growth of other non-desirable organisms." (Source)
1) Best Room Temperature - The most ideal room temperature is between 65-75°F (18-24°C). If colder, fermentation will take longer. If warmer, fermentation will go faster. It is best to ferment them slowly, rather than too quickly, for optimal flavor and texture.
2) Vegetable Selection - The green bean is an especially great vegetable to start with if your new to culturing vegetables due to its naturally stiff texture and long shape. It is best of course to use green beans fresh from the garden at the peak of the season, however our second preferred options are organic green beans from a Farmers Market or local produce section.
3) Using an Air-Lock Cap - Most raw lacto-fermented green bean recipes are a type of wild fermentation in that they are somewhat exposed to airborne strains. When we make ours, we employ the use of an air lock device to keep out unwanted bacterial or yeast strains, like candida, that may be present in the atmosphere. This is not, however, required as you can also apply a loose lid and place in a pantry location that is not exposed to a lot of foot traffic.
One or two fresh grape leaves, because of their high tannin content, help to give homemade lacto-fermented pickled vegetables a crunchy texture, but they are optional.
Remember, it is important when fermenting foods to thoroughly wash all tools, jars and chopping boards in hot soapy water before preparing your ferment.
Tools You Will Need:
Lacto-fermented green beans will last a very long time in the refrigerator.
They make a great addition to salads, provide a nice snack food, or can be used like sauerkraut or kimchi as a condiment to meals.