At first, fermenting your own veggies may seem daunting, but you’ll soon learn that it’s relatively straight-forward and easy to do. There are practically unlimited options, and you can have fun experimenting with different seasonings and combinations.
But before we get into the details of fermenting vegetables, we’ve going to cover why you would even want to do so in the first place.
Why Start Fermenting Foods?
You may not have heard, but fermented foods can do wonders for your gut health. And with more and more research being conducted into the impact of gut health on various other aspects of our wellbeing (mental and physical).
The reason so many of us are harping on about fermented foods at the moment is because they contain probiotics. Probiotics are ‘good bacteria’ that help to keep your microbiome in good shape and contribute to multiple daily processes that your body has to do.
These bacteria help strengthen your immune system, regulate your appetite and even help to keep your mental wellbeing in check (for example, the majority of your bodies serotonin is made in the gut). The stomach is nicknamed the second brain for a reason- it has a massive impact on our overall health.
Improving your gut health should be a top priority for anyone experiencing gastrointestinal discomfort – especially if you’ve been unknowingly living with a food intolerance for some time.
What About Supplementing?
Fermented foods aren’t the only way to improve your gut health, though, and some people may find that their diet and/or taste buds will cause them to seek alternative methods of improving gut health. Thankfully, there are probiotics for precisely this reason.
Taking high-quality probiotics has been proven to improve people’s gut health and may be a good option, especially if you’ve recently taken antibiotics as these medicines aren’t picky with which bacteria they kill off.
What Can You Ferment?
- Green beans
- Whole pickling cucumbers
Those of you who are lactose intolerant can relax, this has nothing to do with lactose! We aren’t suggesting you start making some ungodly cereal-veggie concoction. Lacto-fermentation is actually all about lactic acid.
Fruits and veggies often contain the bacteria Lactobacillus. Now, usually, we think of bacteria as dangerous, dirty or generally something to avoid. But not this kind. This is one of many ‘good bacteria’ types that you should look for when purchasing other fermented foods.
In an oxygen-free environment, Lactobacillus will turn sugars into lactic acid and prevent harmful bacteria from growing. It acts as a preservative for the produce and gives fermented foods a tangy flavour.
Tips and Tricks Before We Begin
- Keep your veggies the same size, to ensure they ferment at the same rate
- Salt brine – Keep all of the vegetables submerged
- Ferment to taste – There’s no right or wrong here, the fermenting is done when they’ve reached a taste you’re happy with.
- Store in a cool, dry place, like the fridge and your veggies, should be good for months!
This recipe is designed as a guideline to fermenting, rather than a set-in-stone kind of method. You can use whichever vegetables and seasonings take your fancy, although we’ve provided a few good combinations to get you started. Within a few days time, you’ll have plenty of probiotic-rich snacks ready to go.
- 4 cups vegetables of your choice, washed and peeled (if desired), and cut into roughly evenly-sized pieces
- seasonings of your choice (see below)
- 4 cups chlorine-free water
- 2 tablespoons of sea salt
- Fill a clean, wide-mouthed jar with the chopped vegetables and leave at least 1½ inches of headspace.
- Add your choice of seasonings.
- Mix together just under a litre of water with 2 Tbsp sea salt, until the salt has dissolved.
- Pour the salt water over the vegetables in your jar and leave around one inch of headspace.
- Next, place a smaller clean jar (or other weight) inside the first jar to keep the vegetables submerged in the brine.
- Cover the jars with something breathable. (such as; a paper coffee filter and rubber band, or a tea towel. If you use a tight-fitting lid instead, you’ll need to open the jar every day to allow built-up gasses to escape.)
- Leave your vegetables to ferment on the side for two or three days. (The ideal fermenting temperature is around 70-75°F.) Check-in on them each day to make sure they’re all staying submerged in the brine. After two to three days, you should begin to see tiny bubbles forming at the top of the brine.
- Start tasting your vegetables after two or three days. Once they’ve reached a flavour you ‘re happy with, remove the weight, tightly cover the jar, and store the fermented vegetables in the refrigerator. You can now enjoy them as and when you want.
Some great fermented vegetable combinations:
- Beets, carrots, and fennel
- Broccoli and cauliflower with basil, garlic, and oregano
- Carrots with ginger and garlic
- Carrots with red pepper flakes
- Cauliflower with curry powder
- Garlic with basil and oregano
- Green beans with garlic and dill