Fermenting foods is an age-old tradition used by our ancestors and has had a resurgent over the last decade. Food conscious people, like you and me are exploring again the wisdom of traditions old, wanting to avoid processed foods and sourcing clean, organic nutritious foods. Eating seasonally means sometimes we go without, but the beauty of fermenting is you can make batches in the optimal seasonal time, to then store away to use another day. Some people view fermenting with trepidation, but really it is not complicated, time consuming or scary. Once you give it a try you will see how easy and fun it is to make.
One of our previous Organic Angels employees, the lovely Nina is travelling around Italy WWOOFing and I am enjoying following her journey. She sent me a photo of an Italian farmhouse pantry full of fermented foods, knowing I would appreciate the loveliness of all that delicious food. In the pantry (see above picture) there is fermented cabbage, beetroot, carrot, jalapeños, kimchi, miso, kombucha, kefir…just to name a few. The Italians know a thing or two about fermenting!
Fermented foods are foods that go through a process of lacto fermentation, where natural bacteria feed on sugar and starch in the food, creating lactic acid, which helps preserve the food and nutrients, creates beneficial enzymes, increase vitamin content and various strains of probiotics. All of this is excellent for your body, as can help improve digestion, re-establish healthy gut flora which improves overall immunity. The health benefits are powerful, so when starting out, take it slow and let your body adjust to the intake.
To get you started, here are 3 of the simplest ferments you can do. When fermenting always use, use organic veggies, good quality salt and filtered water.
An ancient drink that is packed with probiotics, Vitamin C and helps cleanse the liver and blood.
You will need:
2 -3 Beetroot (about 500g)
1 tablespoon salt
Spring or filtered water
2 litre jar
Peel beetroot and cut in 1cm cubes. Place in a large 2 litre capacity jar (or 2 x smaller ones – halving the quantity). Add salt and fill with water. Leave to ferment at room temperature, swirling the jar every day. It should be ready in 1-2 weeks. Good tip to see if it is ready, is to hold the jar up to natural light and liquid should be dark. Sometimes a fine white layer can form on the top, this is not mould! It is called kahm yeast and is harmless.
When ready, strain the liquid kvass and store in the fridge. It will store for about a month. Drink a little bit each day. The taste is slightly salty and a little fizziness is normal.
You can make second batch using a little bit of liquid from the first batch as a starter. You can use fresh beetroot or use from first batch. Add salt and start the process again. You can use an optional ¼ cup of whey to help fermentation.
Fermented Carrots (in brine)
This is great if you have some carrots to use up. They are delicious to munch on as a savoury snack or chop into salads. You can add some dill or mustard seeds for a flavour twist.
You will need:
1-2 Carrots (med size) take off tops and cut into sticks
1 tsp salt
Stand the carrots up in the jar so they fit nice and snug. Add salt and water and make sure the water is covering the carrots. If your jar is big and the carrots are floating, you can use a glass weight or fill a small snap lock bag with water to use as a weight to keep carrots submerged. Leave out at room temperature for a week and they should be ready.
This is my standard go to recipe for kraut and goes with any meal. The kids enjoy this recipe too.
You will need:
Approx. 700g green cabbage, chopped or shredded fine (save some of the big outer leaves)
1 tbs salt
1 tbs caraway seeds
1 litre size mason jar with metal lid
Place the shredded cabbage in a big bowl with salt and massage into the cabbage. Give it lots of squeezing and massaging and you will feel it start to soften. Add the caraway seeds and massage through again. Let it sit for 10 mins or so, to let the salt draw out more liquid, then give it one last massage.
Pack the cabbage into your jar, firmly packing it down until the cabbage reaches near the top of the jar. There should be some liquid forming at the top. Take the washed bigger leaves that you set aside and fold up and push down into the jar, pushing the shredded cabbage under the liquid, making sure it is submerged. Fold up another outer leaf if you need to help weigh it down further. Put the lid on (not super tight) and leave out at room temp for 10 days. Place jar in a bowl as some bubbling over is normal in the first few days. After the 10 days, open and toss the big leaves at the top, grab a fork and enjoy a mouthful of your delicious sauerkraut. Store in fridge once opened.
Happy fermenting and I would love to hear how you go!
Love Sarah x