How to Make Fermented Foods from Your Garden

Having a healthy gut is central to overall health, as the gut is connected to everything that happens in the body. Eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, allergies, autoimmune disease, cancer, mood disorders, learning issues and digestive disorders are all connected with the gut. The best way to improve your gut is to eat more fermented foods, reports Sandor Katz, author of Wild Fermentation. Katz says, “We can improve our overall health by replenishing and diversifying our diets with bacterially rich live-culture foods and beverages.” The good news is that fermenting food is easy and can be done at home!

Fermented Vegetables
Almost any vegetable can be fermented and is a great way to provide cultured food for your gut year-round. The process begins with lacto-fermentation, a method of food preservation where natural bacteria feeds on the sugars and starch, creating lactic acid which produces enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics. These enhance the nutrients of the food, making it more readily available to the body.

How To Ferment Vegetables
Prepare The Vegetables
Grating, shredding, chopping, slicing or just leaving them whole is the first step in the fermenting process.
A specific recipe may call for salt, salt and whey, or starter culture. Depending on personal taste and dietary requirements, choose your method. Celery juice can be used as an alternative for salt as well. The brine is prepared with the starter culture chosen and water. Be sure to use pure water as free from contaminants as possible.
Choose your jar and weigh the vegetables down under the brine with a cabbage leaf. Be sure the brine covers the vegetables and leaf. The purpose is to keep them in an anaerobic environment during the fermentation process.
Seal and store in a warm, slightly moist place for 24 to 96 hours, depending on the vegetable being cultured. Ideal temperature is 68-75 degrees Fahrenheit. If it begins to get to warm, the microbes will die.
Once completed with process, store in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

Here is our new found FAVORITE fermented veggie recipe.  It is from Fresh & Fermented, authored by Julie O’Brien & Richard Climenhage, founders of Firefly Kitchens.

Coratido Kraut (a Salvadoran spicy cabbage relish)
1 head green cabbage (about 2 pounds)
1 medium carrot, grated (about 2/3 cup)
1 tbsp. sea salt
½ medium onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
2 tsp. minced jalapeño
1 ½ tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. red pepper flakes, more if you want more heat

Peel off outer leaves from the cabbage, reserving the leaves.  Rinse the head.  Quarter and core the cabbage, reserving the core.  Slice the cabbage into 1/8 to 1/4 –inch-wide strips.  You should have about 12 cups of shredded cabbage. 

Mix the cabbage and carrots in a large bowl.  Add the salt, using your hands to thoroughly work the salt into the vegetables.  When the vegetables have shrunk to about ½ their original volume, and have generated a briny, watery base, then taste them and add more salt or water if necessary. Mix in the onion, jalapeno, oregano and red pepper flakes, making sure they are evenly distributed throughout. 

Pack the vegetables tightly into a quart jar until they’re about 2 inches below the rim, weighing them down with the reserved leaves and core.  Make sure the brine completely covers the compressed vegetables by about 1 inch, and that it’s about 1 inch below the rim of the jar. Let the jar sit at room temperature (roughly 64-70 degrees F), topping the veggies with more brine if needed.  The kraut should be ready to eat after 1 week, or let it ferment for longer for a richer taste.  Store it in the fridge for up to 6 months. 

For more information on the importance of gut health and probiotic foods, contact Healthy Nest Nutrition. Healthy Nest uses a holistic approach to gain overall healthy digestion. They have LOTS of great recipes just like this one, and are eager to share them with you.  Call today for a free 15 min. consultation.

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