Long ago fermenting was used to preserve foods in the absence of reliable refrigeration methods. Today we know that fermenting foods not only preserves them and adds tangy flavour, it also gives them rich probiotic content. Probiotics, also known as the good bacteria your gut needs to function optimally, are vital for good health, but found naturally in very few foods any more.
Beginner’s Guide to Fermenting
Though probiotic supplements are becoming more widely available, fermenting your own raw foods provides an easy and affordable real foods based way to infuse your raw foods diet with rich probiotic content (learn more about why the probiotics in fermented foods are so good). Read on to find out how to get started today!
1. Choose What Foods You Would Like to Ferment
Raw foods are not the only foods that can be fermented, but they are among the best and easiest foods to ferment. Some of the top choices include cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, and onions. As you become more comfortable with the fermenting process, you can begin to experiment with other raw fruits and vegetables.
2. Gather Supplies
You likely have all the supplies you need to start fermenting raw foods at home already. In addition to the raw food you choose to ferment, here’s what you will need:
• Distilled Water
• Herbs and Spices (optional)
• Jar Lid
• Large Glass jar with Wide Mouth Opening
• Rubber bands or string
• Salt: Sea salt or Himalayan salt are the best choices because more processed salt choices can inhibit probiotic growth.
3. Prep the Produce
Use an all-natural, non-toxic fruit and vegetable wash to clean your selected produce. Next, cut, slice, or dice your produce. This will help the produce fit in the jar and gives the probiotics more surface area on which to grow.
4. Sterilise the Fermenting Supplies
Though the goal of fermentation is to grow good bacteria, you still don’t want to foster an environment for non-beneficial to multiply. Prevent this problem by sterilising jars and jar lids with boiling water prior to beginning the fermentation process.
5. Make a Brine
There are several ways that raw foods can be fermented including using a salt brine, whey, or starter culture. Because a salt brine is one of the easiest ways to ferment foods, it is ideal for those new to fermenting foods, and thus the method described here. To make a salt brine, add one tablespoons of sea salt for every one cup of distilled water you use. Stir the salt into the water until the salt is completely dissolved. How much brine you will need will vary based on how many vegetables you are fermenting.
Place your chopped vegetables in a jar. Fill the jar nearly to the top, leaving approximately 5 centimeters of space at the top of the jar. If you wish to add any herbs or spices to your brine, this is the stage at which to add them. Coriander, dill, and garlic all make good choices, but are optional to include.
Pour the brine over vegetable to cover vegetables completely. Take care to make sure all of your vegetables are entirely under the brine. Some people find it helpful to use a small bowl or other weight to keep all vegetables submerged. A cabbage leaf can also be used help with the submersion. Place the lid on the jar and close it completely.
Once the jar is filled and covered, store it in a temperate environment, away from direct sunlight. The fermenting process can take from three to ten days, depending on what you are fermenting and your personal preferences regarded taste. You will begin to see small bubbles forming in the jar that let you know the fermenting is working. After the third day you can begin to taste your vegetables to determine when they are tangy enough for your taste.
Once the fermenting process is completed and the desired flavour is reached, you can begin to enjoy your fermented raw foods. They are terrific on their own or can be used as a garnish to top foods like salad.
Raw fermented foods can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a couple of months after the fermentation process is completed.