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Jul 23, 2012 07:40 PM

Fermented Foods!

As in lacto-fermentation - the method of pickling and preserving without vinegar and canning!

The idea sometimes seems scary to people since (USA referencing) we grew up with the concept of bacteria = BAD!

This process is pretty low-tech and can create delicious results. Another plus is the health aspects. This type of ferment creates lots of the "good" bacteria (probiotics) and is easily digestible.

Just about every culture around the world has/had a tradition of this style fermenting of vegetables, grains & dairy.

I hope we can create a resource of recipes for ferments, how to use them and also help each other with troubleshooting.

If you aren't familiar with lacto-fermentation here are some resources to get you excited!
Wild Fermentation - Sandor Katz
The Art of Fermentation - Sandor Katz
Nourishing Traditions - Sally Fallon
Making Sauerkraut & pickled vegetables at home - Klaus Kaufmann
Full Moon Feast - Jessica Prentice (includes lacto-fermentation)
Joy of Pickling - Linda Ziedrich (includes lacto-fermentation)

lots of blogs, search for GAPS diet or Weston Price will turn up many

Chow made an excellent, inspiring video as part of the "obsessive" series:

Let the fun begin!

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  1. Thanks for the information. I like to make kimchi. The info may be of some help.

    1. The only thing I've done myself is preserved lemons, but I wanted to mention these jars that rasputina posted about, which are specifically designed for making lacto-fermented foods:

      4 Replies
      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

        Does anybody know if you can just purchase the top portions of the Pickl-It thingies & use your own wide mouth mouth jars, or do you need the ones Pickl-It sells that has the wire latch. My wide mouth jars are the regular Kerr canning jars.

        Do you all feel these kits are worth the money? This is a completely new concept to me.

        Years ago (when I had money), I purchased a Harsch Crock...a real BIG one & put some cabbage in there & waited patiently for magic to happen. After about a week, I looked in there & saw strange murky water & things did not smell too good at all. I had no idea about the difference between fermenting & rotting, so I tossed the whole batch & then lugged that big crock to the barn to gather dust.

        Point is, those Pickl-It kits look much easier, but I am just wondering if I could just use my own Kerr jars instead of purchasing ANOTHER set of jars.

        1. re: cstout

          While I was pondering my question about the PICKL-IT system, I came across this -

          1. re: cstout

            I went to the local homebrew store, bought some fermentation locks and gaskets, and drilled holes in the top of wide mouth liter canning jars. came to about 60 cents per jar.

      2. I am a *fermenting fool* in my house :)
        I lacto ferment everything. Seriously, I do. I eat a bit of fermented veg every day...sometimes with eggs in the morning.

        Right now I am enjoying fermented turnips with onion. They are fabulous along side beef dishes and when serving more generic Asian foods from curry dosa to noodle stir fry. Just makes you feel a bit "kicky" ;)

        11 Replies
        1. re: sedimental

          I should add that the fermented turnips have a "gawd-awful" smell. Like someone just farted up the room. If you eat them for breakfast need to continue to assert that you "didn't do it". Pure sulfur smell, but delish!

          1. re: sedimental

            Can you give me some suggestions for using fermented shredded carrots? I made some last winter and they never really got eaten because I just couldn't figure out how to incorporate them into meals. I mean sure I could add some to coleslaw but after that I was at a loss of ideas and just tossing them on the plate wasn't appealing.

            I'd love to make them again, but I have to figure out how to fit them into our diet.

            1. re: rasputina

              Here's a few quick ideas:

              -add to tacos w/chicken, beans, or pork
              -incorporate into eggrolls
              -add to Asian-style noodle dishes
              -serve a dollop atop thick beefy stew
              -make a salad with sliced onions, green apples, and fermented carrots
              -add to sandwiches/wraps

              1. re: rasputina

                They would be nice added to the meat/rice stuffing for stuffed cabbage!

                1. re: rasputina

                  Well, that might depend on why you ferment.

                  I ferment for health reasons as well as for taste and as a nicer storage method for extra garden produce.

                  So, I believe that fermented foods promote gut health therefore immunity is improved, so I eat a little bit of fermented foods in the morning. Just a tablespoon with my eggs, or cottage cheese... or leftover veg/quinoa/meat, etc.little something from last night, etc.

                  I also use them as an *added* side/condiment with dinner. Again, just a tablespoon on each dish- not really a side dish, but as an addition to the side dish. I don't think most people want to eat a large quantity of fermented veg with anything as it usually tastes strong.

                  I wouldn't put your carrots in cooked foods as the beneficial properties are destroyed with heat (if you are concerned with that).

                  You might try adding onions to your carrots for a bit more versatility. Lacto onions are really good! They stay really fresh tasting for months this way.

                  I would think that a tablespoon of your carrots on a plate of anything Asian, Mexican or Moroccan would be nice. I have made lacto ginger carrots and they were really nice on Asian and East Indian inspired dishes of all kinds. Used like pickled ginger or a chutney.
                  Hope this helps :)

                  1. re: sedimental

                    Yes, I probably should have posted that I don't want to cook it. I'm fermenting because I want to eat these for gut health. I'll try your onion idea on my next batch. That sounds good. I've been meaning to get some cippolini onions fermenting too.

                  2. re: rasputina

                    use them in a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich along with pickled daikon

                    1. re: rasputina

                      Ok so remember those fermented carrots that just didn't quite inspire me? I made another batch a few months ago. I've never tried to ferment a precut vegetable before, I always buy whole and prep myself, but I had saw this bag of julienne carrots and thought, what the heck. I was hoping I'd find them a more interesting end product than the shredded ones I did before.

                      So now they have been in my fridge for months and I love them. I love that they held their shape and texture. They are just lovely. I've eaten them as a side dish and added them to homemade coleslaw ( I wait and add just before serving).

                      I am going to have to start another batch soon! Love them!

                      1. re: rasputina

                        Lol, that's one of the advantages of fermented preservation -- can't find a use for it today? it'll be fine tomorrow. Or next month. :)

                        1. re: rasputina

                          I do find my learning curb starts off slowly in regards to using my ferments. I guess the flavors are still "new" to me. But once you start using them the ideas begin to flow!

                          1. re: rasputina

                            Nice follow-up post! Glad to hear you're enjoying your fermented carrots!

                      2. i made saurkraut last fall. it was to die for. and so much easier than i expected. i cant wait to do it again.

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: charles_sills

                          I was wondering if I could purchase a couple bags of coleslaw mix & make sauerkraut - has anyone done this. I don't want to tackle anything too big until I get the hang of it.

                          1. re: cstout

                            Yeah you could do that. Just make sure you get the jugs you're going to use good and clean, and make certain you rinse the slaw mix really well.

                            IMO, making sauerkraut really is easier than baking a cake, and is a fairly forgiving process. The only issue with making a batch of kraut is the amount of time it takes, and the smell (oh lord the smell)...

                            1. re: deet13

                              Well, living on a ranch has definitely indoctrinated me to smells. Chickens, horses, cows, skunks, & a million other things.

                              Probabably would be cheaper just to go ahead & buy a small head of cabbage, buying anything already packaged is going to be more expensive.

                              1. re: cstout

                                You're right, since cabbage usually runs .65 to .75 cents per lb. The only thing you're really saving is the time spent shredding the cabbage.

                                If you run it through a food processor as opposed to a mandolin, you can slice up 5lbs of cabbage in no time, with minimal effort on your part.

                                1. re: deet13

                                  Yep, being lazy adds to the cost for sure. Thanks for the comparison.

                            2. re: cstout

                              I recently took a workshop from a local fermenter who does this for a living. She said that the bagged slaw mixtures are often treated with bleach to sterilize the vegetable for a longer shelf life. The sterilization kills the naturally occurring good bacteria and so fermentation will not be successful.

                              1. re: meatn3

                                I wonder if she said anything about the whole cabbage - is it possible it is treated too? I made kraut many times long time ago and never had a failure and was surprised that my kraut did not turn out well in a PicklIt jar to boot! I think I'll buy next cabbage from a farmers' market.

                                1. re: herby

                                  I have used regular store cabbage (non-organic! oh the shame lol) without problems. Your recent issue might have been salt concentration, temperature, bacterial contamination, etc. I've had an occasional jar of grey ungoodness.

                                  Does the Pickl-It use whey-and-salt, or just salt? The whey makes for a quicker startup of fermentation.

                                  1. re: DuchessNukem

                                    Pickl-It recipe uses only salt and this is how I used to do it too. Now, adding whey is interesting and I am willing to try. Would whey from kefir work? How much to add?

                                    1. re: herby

                                      General recipe is 1 cabbage, 1 Tbsp salt, 4 Tbsp whey (kefir whey is fine). Process with pounding/packing/aging as usual.

                                      1. re: DuchessNukem

                                        Thank you, DN! I will give it a try next week and will report back on what I hope will be a success :)

                              2. re: cstout

                                I don't. Personally I don't trust the product to have not been treated in some way. Plus I think that freshly grated is going to give off more moisture than something sitting in a bag for who knows how long.

                            3. I have jars of both dairy kefir and water kefir going all the time. I'm looking forward to doing some sauerkraut and kimchi this fall when I have some more time.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: weezieduzzit

                                I tried water kefir, I don'thave the attention span tha tit takes to treat it the way it needs to be treated, it turns out. i did like watching the crystals forming, though, and think it's kind of miraculous. Growing it is just not for me.