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Natural Year Challenge: Food - Month Seven

Vegetable FermentsMake a Vegetable Ferment

If you've never attempted to make a vegetable ferment, don't worry—you can do it! Vegetable ferments are a bit more challenging than dairy ferments, but once you get the hang of it, you'll enjoy the incredible benefits and creative possibilities of fermenting your favorite vegetables.

Beets, carrots, and cabbage work particularly well as ferments, and some tasty combinations include carrots, daikon radish, and ginger. The possibilities are endless! If you have vegetables, salt, and a proper container, you have all you need to create a probiotic "wonder food."

  1. Vegetables. Whenever possible, use organic. The chemicals in pesticides may hinder the fermentation process.
  2. Salt. Use an unrefined salt such as sea salt. Himalayan salt is also an excellent option.
  3. Container. You have numerous options. The ideal containers keep oxygen out and allow carbon dioxide to release. Many use Fido jars or mason jars successfully. Others use air locks attached to mason jars. Fermentation crocks can be heavy and cumbersome, but offer an ideal way to make large amounts of sauerkraut successfully.

    Sources for containers include:

  4. Starter (optional). You may use a culture starter, whey, or juice from a previous ferment to help boost the fermenting process. Online sources for starter cultures include:

Sauerkraut Recipe

The simplest vegetable to ferment is cabbage. Cabbage contains lots of the beneficial microorganisms needed for fermentation. Green or red cabbage will work, although green cabbage is a bit quicker to release its juices.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium cabbage
  • 1 tbsp. sea salt
  • 1 tbsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 small sour apple
  • Starter (optional)

Directions:

Clean the cabbage. Save a few leaves as you will use them as a top layer for the kraut. Shred cabbage on a coarse grater or with the shredding blade in a food processor. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Transfer to jar or crock a bit at a time and pack tightly. Repeat until the pot is 80% full. Cover the final layer with a few large leaves.

As you pack the cabbage you will see the release of juices. This is the brine. You want this liquid to cover the packed cabbage to insure an anaerobic environment for the kraut, which allows the beneficial bacteria to multiply. Place weights on the leaves if needed to keep the kraut below the brine. Seal with an air lock or airtight lid.

Keep container out of direct sunlight at room temperature for 3-5 days. The fermentation activity will be evident. You may see the brine bubble out of the container, so keep a towel close by.

The next step, according to the book Making Sauerkraut and Pickled Vegetables at Home by Klaus Kaufmann and Annelies Schoneck, is to "put pot in a cool place for two to three weeks. In order for a slow fermentation to take place the temperature should be around 59 degrees." Move to refrigerator after this 2-3 week period. The sauerkraut can be eaten after 4 weeks, but will be better if left for 6 weeks (or even longer!).

SauerkrautMany recipes call for a shorter fermentation time. The key is keeping the oxygen out of the kraut while it is fermenting. You will find a process that works for you. For more suggestions and an in-depth look at the health benefits of vegetable fermentation, see A Guide to Raw Cultured Vegetables.

If you're daunted by the process, go ahead and jump in anyway. You'll be an expert "fermenter" before you know it, enjoying the many health benefits of naturally fermented foods!


Need some encouragement for taking the plunge into homemade ferments? Andrea demonstrates making sauerkraut, proving that it really isn't as daunting as you may have thought!

Quotes

"I started finding myself sitting on the floor in rooms of my house and not remembering how I got there, what I was doing before, or how long I had been there."

– Brenda

"In my moldy home if I left the wet clothes in the washer they would get musty very quickly and I'd have to re-wash... Sometimes I'd run a load, go to work, and they'd be musty when I returned that evening."

– Anonymous

"Both of my sons went downhill quickly and coughed for months... They both lost their ability to read, had profound vision disturbances, and had phenomenal gastric issues."

– Lee

"I have been sick for almost 6 months now and doctors were not able to figure out why. I finally put it all together after going away for vacation for a week and suddenly my symptoms were going away."

– Anonymous

"I'm new at this, but today I cleaned my bathroom with baking soda and vinegar. It's much better not having those strong chemical smells afterwards."

– Anonymous

"I was skeptical at first that these (natural cleaning) products would work, but they work better than the stuff I buy at the store! We will soon be moving to the personal care products as well!"

– Jennifer

"I've been living in a mold-infested home for 13 months... I was going CRAZY! Finally figured it out... Just a few days of recovering in a mold-free home and I feel AMAZING!!!"

– Lauren

"I had been struggling with headaches, head fog, breathing difficulties (unable to get a full breath), constant scalp tingling, migraines, nausea, feeling spacey/detached, and severe itchy skin."

– Anonymous

"Our family has been out of our home for 9 months due to mold... I am so scared and weak from all of this. We have lost friends; family members don't understand."

– Anonymous

"I knew it was mold, but doctors kept telling me I had anxiety. I was sitting in my office and could not remember who I was talking to, or what we were talking about."

– Brenda

"My daughter started having digestive problems... heart palpitations... coughing episodes... muscle/joint pain... asthma/allergies... Her doctor finally advised me to check for mold in our home."

– Anonymous

"We had some water leaks in our home... we never thought we needed to clean out and remove the floor, the ceiling, or the drywall... my two small children and I have remained constantly sick for years in this home."

– Mia

"...at age 35 or 36 I started to become allergic to everything, and I got asthma at age 36... I went to doctor after doctor after doctor and was desperate for help, but nobody could help me."

– Mia

"My daughter has had many blood samples taken to test for everything imaginable and her doctor just seems puzzled. Everything comes back normal."

– Anonymous

"We were having a lot of health problems and had been to the doctor countless times... we had large circles of slimy greenish-black mold on the bathroom ceiling, where it had caved in a few months before."

– C.

"My symptoms persisted and eventually turned into lethargy and depression. At the age of 26, I required a nap every evening after work."

– Jennifer

"We all suffered from headaches, hormonal body temperature fluctuations, brain fog, fatigue, difficulty breathing, thrush, rashes, and yeast infections... we vacated our home two weeks ago."

– Anonymous

"The entire time we lived in our (mold-infested) house the kitchen sponge would get musty smelling within 3-4 days. It was so strange. I had to buy a pack of sponges nearly every week."

– Anonymous

Dedication