Fermented Foods January 23 2018

Fermented VegetablesFermenting food is an old method used for preserving the plentiful harvest in the fall so there is enough to last through winter when no other crops can grow. When it comes to food preservation, fermenting provides the most health benefits. It is a living food, it is raw, and it is highly charged with nutrients in a jar all waiting to be enjoyed.

Perks for Eating Fermented Foods
When you allow food to naturally ferment, the good bacteria in the vegetables becomes available to feed your gut, and the enzymes stay alive to help improve your digestion. Not only that, but your body will get to enjoy lots of other health benefits such as the B vitamins, vitamin K2, and probiotics.

B vitamins are essential for brain and heart health. This group of vitamins also help fuel your body, giving you more energy.

Vitamin K2 is essential for building strong bones, yes you need more than just calcium to build strong bones! Vitamin K2 can help lower risk of cancers, heart disease, and preventing blood clots.

Research estimates about 80% of your immune system is in your gut. What keeps your gut healthy are the probiotics (good bacteria). Probiotics also can help detoxify, draw out heavy metals in our body. Detoxing is what we city folks especially need since there’s so much pollutants all around.

Learn How To Make Fermented Foods!

Start Small
If you never had fermented food, or you do not eat it regularly, start with a low dose, 1-2 table spoons with you meal. Some complaints from friends who are just starting to incorporate this as a lifestyle said it gives them diarrhea. Diarrhea seems to have a bad reputation, but in this case, it is likely that someone is experiencing this because the body is detoxing. When our body finds that something is not needed, it finds its way to release. Thus, fermented food is like a tool to aid this process of removing the bad things out of the body. That’s why it’s better to start eating small quantity if you are newly introducing yourself to it.

How to use fermented foods
Fermented foods is something to have as a side dish, or mixing in with other foods. Fermented foods add a distinctive, but pleasant taste to my meals. For some people — it may take a few tries to acquire the taste, but once you do, you will get to enjoy the benefits it offers.

Making fermented food as a side dish is convenient, but when you experiment adding it in your main dishes, it really lights up the flavor in your plate! Here are some ways I love pairing fermented foods with:

Try to mix a couple table spoons of fermented food with some suggestions below! Don’t add too much as it can overpower your dishes.

Mashed potatoes, salads, tacos, burritos, dippings for chips, Mexican soups (fermented vegetables placed on top to serve), Minestrone soup, and simple Asian stir fry!

Some combinations I fell in love with
After you master fermenting simple ingredients like cabbage or cabbage with garlic, you can start playing with different combinations.

Some websites suggest 1 tablespoon of salt with a cup of water, but I use 1.5 teaspoon of sea salt per cup of water as a brine for the combinations below. Sometimes I replace water with celery juice.

Rainbow carrots, onion, Jalapeño
Chinese Mustard greens
Carrot, Burdock, hot pepper (optional)
Cabbage, garlic
Napa cabbage, garlic
Bitter gourd
Cucumber, Dill
Grape leaves, Thyme
Cauliflower, carrot, garlic, pepper (hot or sweet)
Beet, carrot, cabbage, apple, garlic, peppers (sweet or hot)

Fermented Food For Furry Friends
In my home, even my furry child gets to enjoy fermented food. She loves fermented cabbage with garlic, carrots, and cauliflower. She weights 62 lbs so I add 1-2 table spoons in her food. She too can benefit from fermented food just like us!

When making for my dog, I use 1 teaspoon of sea salt with 1 cup of water. Water can be replaced with celery juice or pear juice.

Cabbage (purple or regular), garlic
Asparagus, cabbage, dandelion
Beet, carrot (rainbow), cauliflower, garlic, burdock

How long does it take to ferment food?
Food ferment faster when it’s warm, and slower when it’s cold. Therefore, the temperature of the room you are fermenting in will affect the speed of the fermentation. Normally it takes 5-7 days for food to be ready to eat, but I have fermented things for up to 2 weeks until I decided to move it to the refrigerator.

Firm vegetables and large vegetables will take longer to ferment than soft vegetables or shredded vegetables. Carrots, beets, burdock, sweet potatoes , cauliflower will take longer to ferment than cabbage, mustard greens, kale, or peppers.

Don’t throw the fermented food juice away!
Did you know that there are venders at the farmers market selling fermented juice? This is the liquid from the fermented vegetables, just like the liquid in the jar you make! So why not save yours too?

I love adding the juice in any dipping sauces, salad dressings, flavor my soups. Don’t add it in super hot dishes, wait till it cools a bit or you end up killing the good bacteria in the fermented liquid.

If you grow a garden — small of large — your plants can benefit from the probiotics too! I love diluting fermented juice in filtered water to nourish my plants. I dilute it until you can barely taste the salt in the water.

When should you dispose the jar of fermented food?
Out of the many times I have been fermenting, it’s very rare do I have to throw the entire jar away. When that happened, I learned that it is because I did not have all the vegetables completely submerged in the liquid. Once I corrected this, it was no longer a problem. Mold grows when there is oxygen so keeping food under water will avoid this issue. Make sure to use rocks, or a large piece of cabbage to keep everything under water.

If the vegetables float to the top when gas is building inside, open the jar and push the vegetables down then close the lid. You can do that when you check on the jar daily.

*Bonus tips!*
Since you’ve made it all the way here to my blog, I’ll let you in a few secrets!

Tip 1
If you do not use air conditioning at home, your vegetables will ferment faster in the summer; however, I find that a slow fermenting process taste best. In that case, I like to keep mine in a cooler indoor. If you don’t have one, just keep it in a cool place such as the kitchen cub board. Make sure to put a tray under the jars in case of any spills.

Tip 2
Did you know that you can ferment vegetables in the refrigerator? The cold slows down the fermentation. This means you can do the entire fermentation process inside of a refrigerator, except it would take much longer for it to be ready.

Tip 3
When the vegetables are fermenting, the gas built-up inside makes the smell get stronger. When I have garlic in the jar, it can make the cub board smell like garlic. I do have a sensitive nose so maybe others may not smell it! Anyway, if you want to avoid the smell in the cub board, it’s best to invest in a cooler, even an old beat up one would work.

Tip 4
Food will ferment as long as it is completely submerged in water. Technically, salt is not needed for fermenting, but it does improve the taste, and keep the vegetables crunchy for a longer period.

Living foods can bring longevity to your health, but the living food itself does not last forever. It takes a very long time for fermented food to become no longer palatable, if stored in the refrigerator, but the maximum nutrition you can benefit from is during the first 6 months of when it is made.

I hope this post is thorough enough to give you the confidence to start making your own. Much love and happiness to you!