Intro to fermenting

Yesterday, I mentioned fermenting and whey. Today, I want to delve into the practical side of fermenting: how to do it and my favorite easy ferments to try. Much of my information comes from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, which I recommend to anyone who asks me about my favorite books.

The basic how-to of fermenting is pretty simple. Wash and cut up the fruits or vegetables you’re using, then mix with salt (plus possibly herbs or spices), and pound to release juices. Then press everything into air-tight containers, pounding the vegetables down more so that the juices/liquid covers the vegetables. The salt keeps the vegetables from going bad until enough lactic acid is produced to preserve the veggies. (Whey is an optional addition, and I like to use it because its lactic acid and good bacteria act as an inoculant, reducing the time needed for preservation and ensuring consistently successful results.) Cover and let sit at room temperature for a few days. Done! Ferments can then be stored in the fridge for months.

The first recipe I’d recommend trying is ginger carrots, because it requires few ingredients, has a milder taste, and is almost fool-proof!

Ginger Carrots (from Nourishing Traditions, p. 95)

4 cups grated carrots, tightly packed

1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger

1 Tablespoon sea salt

4 Tablespoons whey (if not available, use additional 1 T salt)

In a bowl, mix all ingredients and pound with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer to release juices. Place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar and press down firmly with a pounder or meat hammer until juices cover the carrots. The top of the carrots should be at least 1 inch below top of the jar. Cover tightly and leave at room temp about 3 days before transferring to refrigerator. Note: if you can’t get the juices to cover the carrots, it’s OK to add a little bit of filtered water.

Another ferment I’ve had success making that tasted absolutely delicious (possibly my favorite) is kimchi. Lucy loved it too.

Kimchi (Nourishing Traditions, p. 94)

1 head Napa cabbage, cored and shredded

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 cup carrots, grated

1/2 cup daikon radish, grated (optional)

1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/2 teaspoon dried chile flakes

1 Tablespoon sea salt

4 Tablespoons whey (if not available, use additional 1 T salt)

Place vegetables, ginger, garlic, red chile flakes, sea salt and whey in a bowl and pound with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer to release juices. Place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar and press down firmly with pounder or meat hammer until juices come to the top of the cabbage. The top of the veggies should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temp for about 3 days before transferring to refrigerator.

Do you or your kids miss having ketchup? Store-bought stuff is full of sugar, but try this ferment recipe instead!

Ketchup (Nourishing Traditions, p. 104)

3 cups canned tomato paste, preferable organic

1/4 cup whey

1 Tablespoon sea salt

1/2 cup maple syrup (grade B organic)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed

1/2 cup homemade fish sauce or commercial fish sauce

Mix all ingredients until well blended. Place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar. The top of the ketchup should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Leave at room temp for about 2 days before transferring to refrigerator.

See you tomorrow!

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

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