So… I’ve been wanting to learn how to ferment vegetables for a while now, ever since I learnt about the amazing natural properties fermented foods possess that feed the bacteria in our guts but I didn’t know how to easily ferment vegetables.
Fermenting is a traditional process that’s been lost over past generations as our shopping and cooking habits have become supermarket based and over-processed but I’m so happy to find huge groups of enthusiasts enjoying the re- emergence of this ancient craft.
Why ferment vegetables?
As with many of these enthusiasts, I find it fascinating what natural benefits these fermented foods give us and I could do with help replenishing the good guys wiped out by the huge doses of antibiotics I’ve had this past year…let alone the previous decades!
Fermented foods are rich in lactic acid–producing bacteria which naturally make milk products go sour and vegetables ferment. There is so much benefit to eating fermented foods – too much to list here – so here’s a link to Sandor Ellix Katz’ web site where you can find a wealth of information if you wish. Katz is looked upon as the guru of fermenting having lived a fermenter’s life since 1983. He calls himself a “fermentation revivalist” .
But back to the basics. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post on our gut bacteria we have approx 100 trillion microbes living in our digestive system which fight off foreign invaders. These bacteria fight off viruses, unwanted bacteria, chemicals and hormones as well as breaking down food into the essential nutrients we need to live healthily. About 80% of the immune system resides in our gut.
The bacteria in fermented foods encourage these good essential bacteria to grow.
You can get some of these bacteria in probiotic supplements but it’s far more benefical to eat the whole food and personally, I like to try the natural approach – and have fun in the process!
However, I have been put off trying it as I heard the odd bit of info here and there about using the correct salt, right type of water, length of fermenting time, correct temperatures…it all seemed a bit overwhelming...I even bought the latest tome by Katz…
But last November I even took the plunge and made my own sauerkraut ….one litre jar of it…and I’ve not tried it since….to be honest it looks so unappetising I don’t dare! My fermenting friend tells me its fine but after giving it the cursory weekly once over to make sure it’s not mouldy …I walk away, not without a sense of guilt!
How to ferment vegetables
So today I thought I’d have a go at making tastier and nicer looking ferments 🙂 using just small jars to start..
I found these very simple recipes in Dr Perlmutter’s fascinating ‘Brain Maker’ book (which is a subject for another day)
I even had the chance to use the gorgeous red chilli powder, fresh coriander seeds and organic rock salt I got in India last year.
How To Ferment Vegetables- the recipe
Fermented Asparagus With Spiced Brine.
Spiced Brine – use organic ingredients wherever possible as this helps support the healthy bacteria growth.
- 1 litre filtered water – he says to use distilled but on reading other guides, filtered is fine
- 3 tbsp. fine pure sea salt (4 ½ tbsp. course sea salt) – he says to use sea salt but as long as it’s not iodized table salt and has good mineral content rock salt is fine
- 2 tbsp. honey
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 tsp black peppercorns
- 1/4 tsp Allspice berries
- 1/4 tsp Juniper berries
- 1/4 tsp Coriander seeds
- 1/4 tsp Mustard seeds
- Dried hot chilli or chilli flakes (I used powder) – to required heat
I combined all the above in a large saucepan and simmered over a medium heat. He doesn’t say how long to simmer for, so I allowed 10 mins to allow the flavours to come out. Leave to cool.
I then packed 3” / 8cm pieces of organic asparagus and 2 x sliced garlic cloves into a 250ml kilner jar (sterilised in the oven.)
I poured in the brine to cover , leaving ½” / 1 cm gap at the top and then took a small sandwich bag filled with water and tied it with one of those wire sandwich bag ties.
I placed this on the top to keep the asparagus beneath the brine and sealed the jar.
Fermented Garlic In Brine
- 50 cloves of peeled garlic
- ½ litre filter water
- 1 ½ tbsp. rock salt – stir into the water to dissolve
I put the garlic into another 250ml jar topped up with the water / salt mix and used another plastic water filled bag as a weight.
I put the remaining brine into a ½ litre kilner bottle to use later when I decide on another veggie to try.
I’m going to leave these in a cool dark place for a couple of weeks…and see what happens!?
Have you any ‘how to easily ferment vegetable’ experiences you’re willing to share?