Culturing or fermenting vegetables is one of the first recipes I give my clients who are experiencing gut issues, though I believe everyone should add fermented vegetables to their diet. Why? Modern day living (stress, pollutants, medications such as antibiotics and the pill) strip the good bacteria from our gut, and consuming fermented foods is one of the best ways to re-feed this good bacteria.
A healthy gut is so important as up to 80% of our immune system is located in our gut, and there increasing emerging scientific research linking the gut and brain, recognizing the role of the gut's ability to almost act as a ‘second’ brain, able to influence our mind, mood and behaviours.
The lacto-fermentation process also enhances the nutrient content of the food as the bacteria produce vitamins and enzymes that are beneficial to digestion, and make the minerals of the food more readily available to our body.
So how can we ferment vegies? Its easy- below is a step by step guide.
Chopped vegies- 1 medium cabbage is the best base, radish, carrot, cucumber and fennel also popular)
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- 1 x Starter culture- (I love Caldwells vegie starter) or can use 4 tbsp whey or extra tbsp of salt if don't have
1 x tbsp herbs (such as caraway seeds, dill, crushed garlic)
1. Grab a mason or fermentation jar (the pickling jars with a spring lever and seal are the cheapest) and sterilise.
2. Chop up your chosen vegies, add to bowl and squeeze/pound vegies for 5-10mins to release juices. If you want to use whole vegies as pictured then skip this step and pickle in a brine mixture- 2-3 tbsp salt per litre filtered water
3. Spoon into jar pressing down until the juices come over the vegie mixture (may need to use a weight to ensure it stays under the juice if needed)
4. Cover jar tightly and leave to ferment at room temperature for 3-5 days depending on the season- there should be slight bubbles appearing, and pleasantly sour to taste
5. Move to cold storage and enjoy a tbsp with every meal!
Image from http://www.thetimes.co.uk/