Fermentables: Easy Home Fermentation Adds Excitement and Health to School (or Work) Lunches



Packing a healthy lunch is one thing—whether your child eats that lunch is another thing entirely. I grew up in the seventies when whole grain breads, granola and hummus were not common foods—yet. My mother read Mother Earth News and enthusiastically embarked on baking her own bread, making her own hummus, and culturing her own yogurt. We were in rural Arizona where Twinkies, Hostess pies, bologna sandwiches, or frozen burritos were the standard lunches. You can see where this is going. I did not bring those name brand items in my lunch sack. (Oh yes, the sack—we also recycled, and my lunches were packed in random repurposed bread bags from when she wasn’t baking, instead of neat, crisp brown paper lunch sacks. She was ahead of her time.)

In our middle school we were in a classroom with wraparound desks. You know the ones, they are still in use—molded plastic chair with a tabletop that encloses your body usually from the right side. The entire thing is held together by chrome with a chrome basket below the seat in which to store your books and, in our case, our lunches. From this position under my seat my sandwiches betrayed me to the class. Usually by mid-morning my mother’s liberal use of raw garlic was wafting around me like the little cloud of dust that follows Pigpen in Charles Schultz’s cartoons. Pre-teen children are not afraid to point this out with dramatic nose-holding squeals of disgust. When lunch finally came I pulled out sandwiches that looked as if they could be used in a geography lesson on plate tectonics as the hummus oozed through the fault lines of crumbling bread.

So as a parent I am particularly sensitive to coming up with a healthy whole food unprocessed lunch choice that does not feel to my children like social suicide.  Luckily kids love pickled foods and with a little creativity your presentation will make them the lunchroom hit. The best part is that with one afternoon of vegetable preparation you can have weeks of fermented snacks without compromising freshness or flavor.

Fermented Veggie Pickles

I recommend making these “fermentables” lunch pickles with your children. What a great way to involve them in the process and connect them with their lunch. (For extra credit you and your child can buy the veggies from the farmers’ market and talk about local food systems and preserving a bit of the local harvest…)

Pickled carrot sticks can be a child’s gateway into fermented food. They’re crunchy, tasty and convenient, but it doesn’t stop there—for example celery sticks, green beans, and jicama also make fermented finger food pickles that are ready to eat straight or dip into nut butter for a little protein.

9/7/2015 10:37:09 PM

They do need to stay in the brine for storing beyond a few days. That said if you are actively using a jar of pickles it is okay for the veggies to be out of brine during that time. If you won't be getting into them and eating them regularly then you want to make sure they are in the brine.

9/4/2015 3:42:31 PM

when storing the fermented veggies do they need to stay in the brine?

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