How to: Fermenting Foods – The Joy of Fermentation

Fermenting Foods How to ferment

For a few thousand years now, people have been fermenting foods. Many of the foods — even the highly processed ones — we all (guiltily) enjoy are fermented: Chocolate, soy sauce, coffee, olives and many, many more.

And while the process may seem mysterious, it is actually quite simple. Raw fermentation, the process in which many foods are transformed from regular vegetable to tangy, delightful fermented foods — think sauerkraut and kimchi — are easy, safe and incredibly healthy.

Health benefits of fermented foods

Fermenting foods requires taking food, in this particular case, vegetables, adding salt and allowing naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria to partially digest the starches in the food transforming them and preserving them.

In the process, the microbes that facilitate the transformation make the food easier to digest, create antioxidants and release vitamins and minerals.

The microbes that grow in the food are also healthy for the digestive system (think yogurt, another fermented food). The microbes in the human digestive system like fermented food. Fermented foods have been shown to restore stomach acid pH and were also used as a traditional treatment for ulcers.

PROCESS

Quite simply, the fermented vegetables we tried had at best, three ingredients — salt, water and vegetables.

We used mason jars, although some home fermenters have used plastic mayonnaise containers or any jar they have lying around the house. Some people even use 5 gallon buckets covered with cloth.

The food then ferments in the jars (or other containers) over a manner of days or weeks.

Once the process is finished (a matter of taste more than anything, some people prefer their food strongly flavored while others prefer theirs milder) the food is packed into jars and refrigerated, halting the fermentation process by causing the microbial activity to go dormant.

During the fermenting process, gas is produced.

The gas must be released, but exposing the material to air limits the fermentation process.

Many home fermenters “burp” their jars by opening the jars allowing the gas to escape and closing them.

If you have more than a few jars, however, this process gets time consuming — and quite frankly, annoying — really fast.

That’s why we use Fermentools products.

Their air locks come with special lids, allowing gas to escape and limiting the air exposure to the

product. They’re also sturdy enough for multiple uses, which means after we’re done with this batch, we can wash them and use them all over again. Fermentools also sells Himalayan salt.

The great thing about fermenting your own food is you can use additions like Himalayan salt to increase the mineral content of your food.

It’s an easy way to add healthy trace minerals to your diet.

Resources:

Find out more about Fermentools fermenting kits and products and fermenting here. You can enter to win a FREE set here.

KIMCHI

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 head cabbage (about 2 pounds)
  • 1/4 cup sea salt or kosher salt
  • Water
  • 1 tablespoon grated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 8 oz korean radish
  • sliced scallions to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Grate the cabbage separately (or slice. We prefer grating because it exposes more surface area, aiding in the fermentation process).
  • Leave the garlic, ginger and sugar separate for now.
  • Salt the cabbage and massage it, until it softens and produces heavy amounts of juice.
  • Cover the cabbage with water. Place a cloth over the bowl and let it sit for about 2 hours.
  • Rinse the cabbage three times and set it aside.
  • Take the garlic, ginger and sugar and add water, making it into a paste.
  • Combine all the vegetables, draining any excess juice, and add the paste.
  • Add red pepper to taste.
  • Pack the kimchi into jars and allow it to ferment for several days (we ferment ours on the kitchen counter and keep it out of direct sunlight).
  • Cap with an air lock or burp the kimchee as needed.
  • Taste it as it ferments to find out how strong you want it. Once it gets to the right spot for you, then change the lid on the jars and put it in the fridge.
  • Repeat the process often as possible to keep yourself in kimchi. You’ll thank us.

How to ferment

FERMENTED ONIONS

INGREDIENTS

  • chopped onions
  • 1 cinnamon stick per jar
  • 1 tsp cloves (per jar)
  • 2 tsp peppercorns (per jar)
  • thyme
  • oregano
  • 1 tbsp salt (sea salt, kosher salt or mineral salt)

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Filtered water as needed
  • Mix the onions and salt.
  • Pack part of the onions into jars.
  • Add one cinnamon stick, cloves, peppercorns, thyme (to taste) and oregano (to taste).
  • Cover with filtered water and apply the airlock.
  • Allow to ferment to taste.
  • Once there, trade out the air lock lid with a standard lid and store in the fridge (or any suitably cool place, if you’re lucky enough to have a root cellar)

FERMENTED LEMONS

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound lemons
  • ¼ cup salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Slice the lemons into small slices (you should get about 12 slices per lemon).
  • Keep the peel on.
  • Pour salt over the lemons and stir, making sure to cover all the lemons thoroughly.
  • Pack into jars and cover with the juice from some of the lemons.
  • Apply the airlock and ferment to taste.
  • Once fermented enough, remove the lock and apply a standard lid. Store in the fridge.

FERMENTED LIMES

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound limes
  • ¼ cup salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Slice the limes into small slices (you should get about 12 slices per lime).
  • Keep the peel on.
  • Pour salt over the limes and stir, covering all the limes thoroughly.
  • Pack into jars and cover with the juice from some of the limes.
  • Apply the airlock and ferment to taste.
  • Once fermented enough, remove the lock and apply a standard lid.
  • Store in the fridge.

FERMENTED GREEN TOMATOES

INGREDIENTS

  • Enough green tomatoes to at least fill a jar
  • garlic (about clove, finely chopped, more if preferred)
  • About 1 tsp of peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 quart filtered water

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Boil the salt in the water until dissolved.
  • Allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Slice tomatoes into at least quarters (eighths is better).
  • Pack tomatoes, peppercorns and garlic into a jar (or jars, depending on how many you’re making).
  • Pour salt water brine over tomatoes, covering the tomatoes.
  • Apply airlock.
  • Allow to ferment to taste.
  • Remove airlock, apply a standard lid and store in the fridge.

The Craft of Herbal Fermentation Course by Herbal Academy

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melissa
 

Melissa has a background in marketing, brand management, graphic design and photography. She left corporate America to pursue her dream of living a simpler life. Simpler doesn’t always mean easier but she enjoys every minute on her small homestead. She loves to cook, practice herbalism and gardening. Her passion is spreading the word about sustainable living and sharing her love of herbalism and living from scratch.

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