I have green beans coming out of my ears! If you are a fellow gardener and have planted even one row, you are probably experiencing the same windfall. If not, you can find loads of beans in all sorts of colors at your local farmer’s market this time of year. I wanted to take advantage of this crop abundance as an opportunity to share a less common preservation method for green (or yellow, or purple!) beans – in addition to freezing, canning, or eating your green beans with every meal for the next couple weeks, a great option is to ferment them. You likely already have the few items you will need on hand, and beyond preserving your beans for at least a year, fermenting offers numerous health benefits – namely, probiotics, enzymes and preserved and enhanced vitamin content. The bacteria that will populate your jar of beans are lactic-acid producing, so as their population grows, they release the lactic acid that is responsible for pushing out undesirable microbes and preserving your food long term. These “friendly” bacteria are the same class as those found in yogurt and probiotic supplements you can pay a lot of money for from the store. A healthy population of beneficial bacteria in your gut means better overall health, since a whopping 70% of our immune system resides in the intestines. The vitamin content is preserved through fermentation (plus vitamin B12 increases as a byproduct of fermentation), whereas the vitamin content of even raw – not to mention cooked – vegetables degrades significantly every day from the time they are picked (another reason to start a garden or buy locally!). In addition to the high vitamin and probiotic content of fermented produce, it is also rich in enzymes that help your body to digest whatever else you’re eating! The ideal would be to have a small side of something fermented with every meal. Try it and see what changes you notice in your health!
All you will need is a tightly sealing glass jar (a mason jar or old pickle jar or something similar works), salt, water, spices and your beans. Beans are just one of the vegetables you can ferment – the possibilities are endless! Try carrot sticks or kimchi, for instance! I also want to add – don’t be freaked out by fermentation! The lactic acid both preserves the food and destroys harmful bacteria. If you see the obvious signs of a healthy ferment (described below), you have nothing to fear! Truly, you are more likely to get sick from spinach from the grocery store – unfortunate but true!