In this post I give you two easy recipes to make fermented foods at home. So, start making and enjoying these very valuable foods to heal the gut and boost the immune system. Once you learn the basic methods, you can start experimenting with your favourite ingredients and make your own mixes.
What are fermented foods?
Fermented foods provide large amounts of various probiotics (i.e. beneficial bacteria) in the best possible form that is easy for the body to utilise and absorb. These probiotics can travel all way down to the colon where most fermentation by the gut bacteria takes place.
Fermentation predigests the food, making it easier for our digestive system to handle, that’s why fermented (or cultured foods) are more easily digested by people with damaged guts and compromised digestion.
Importantly, fermentation process also releases vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients from the foods, making them more available for the body to utilise.
You can ferment any food you like, sauerkraut is one of the most popular and nutrient-rich fermented foods – see my special sauerkraut recipe here.
I find fermenting vegetables using whey is one of the easiest ways to culture them. You can also use powdered kefir starter available from health food shops or online. To make whey, simply buy plain organic yoghurt (approx 250ml) and let it drip overnight using a sieve covered with muslin over a bowl. You should get around 1 cup of whey plus a smooth, cheese like spread, called labne, which is great to have on a piece of toast or cracker.
Basic fermented vegetables recipe
Mixed vegetables of your choice: cabbage, beetroot, carrots, broccoli, garlic, kale etc
A handful of dried seaweeds such as arame, kombu, nori or wakame (choose at least one)
1 cup whey (for approx 2 litre jar)
1-2 teaspoons Celtic or Himalayan salt (or to taste)
1 bay leaf
Slice the vegetables into a bite size chunks and pack loosely into a wide-mouth glass jar (up to 2/3 of the jar), add the seaweeds, whey, salt and fill in the jar with filtered water until the vegetables are completely covered (important to prevent spoiling and mould formation).
Stir the content a few times, close the jar and leave to ferment at a room temperature for 5-7 days.
The vegetables are ready when they become soft and tangy to taste (see my photo above). Next, transfer the jar to the fridge to slow down the fermentation process. The taste will change slightly with time as the fermentation keeps going and there’s a different mix of good bacteria over time. Consume within a week or two, although sometimes I keep the jars in the fridge up to a month.
When the liquid and the vegetables start getting low, add more fresh vegetables plus some salt, top up with