Fermenting fresh produce is a great way to combat food waste, save money, while also reaping the many health benefits fermented foods provide.
Ferment. What does the word conjure up for you? Bacteria? Mould? Stuff going off in your fridge?
It’s a word we’d all do well to become better acquainted with. In fact, you probably already know more than you think. Do you have cheese, salami, chocolate, yoghurt, beer or wine lurking in your pantry? These are all fermented foods.
What we’ll look at today is lacto-fermentation (rather than alcoholic fermentation – we all know how that works!). Lacto-fermentation is a traditional method of preserving food that our ancestors stumbled across many years ago when they were trying to store foods for later seasons.
Lacto-fermented foods can be teeming with life-giving probiotic microbes, as well as plenty of flavour. Fermenting your food will preserve it (and therefore preserve your garden harvest to enjoy all year round) as well as repopulate your gut flora with the “friendly” bacteria called lactobacilli.
Salt: A wonder preserving agent
Let’s differentiate here from food preserved with vinegar or sugar. While this method will preserve your food and does indeed taste delicious, it’s a method that came about through a need for longer shelf life and stability, rather than bestowing wonderful health benefits.
A classic example of lacto-fermentation is Captain Cook taking big barrels of sauerkraut on his long sea voyages. This is how he made it round the world without losing his crew to scurvy (a vitamin C deficiency).
And the process is very simple. A very basic sauerkraut can be made by chopping up a cabbage, pounding it a bit to release the juices, and stuffing in a jar with salt. After three days on the bench it will be ready to eat.
If you have an abundance of cucumbers in summer you could try popping them in a salt water brine to ferment into delicious pickles.
The magic ingredient here is salt. It stops the vegetables going off, and gives the fermenting process time to get going. Of course, there are many other herbs, spices and flavours you can add to make your ferments delicious.
So, no excuses. Pick those vegies and get fermenting!
12 delicious fermented foods recipes to try
Great for your gut health, homemade yoghurt is free from the preservatives and artificial sweeteners that are in most supermarket brands. Learn how to make your own yoghurt and reap the benefits.
Beet kvass is becoming well known among the fermented drink offerings now, but we love this darker, more beer-like version made from bread.
Learn to make yummy fermented radish pickles with just four ingredients. This fermented radish is naturally good for you and tastes great too!
Put your excess rhubarb to good use and whip up a batch of pink fizzy rhubarb champagne.
Fermenting is a fantastic way to preserve fresh produce like cabbage, cucumbers and radishes in the form of sauerkraut, pickles and kimchi.
This understated star of fermented foods has been around for centuries, providing extraordinary bacterial assistance to the human microbiome.
As far as alternative health drinks go, kombucha has hit a popularity peak and is now available in most supermarkets. However, there are plenty of reasons why you’re better off making it at home.
Making tempeh is one of those projects that demonstrates how amazing home-fermented food can be when measured up against its pasteurised, store-bought alternative. In the new issue of Pip (out August 5th) we show you how to make your own fermented tempeh. Subscribe today to get your copy.
Learn how to make yummy pink fizz with our mulberry water kefir recipe.
We love fresh, zingy kimchi here at Pip HQ, and this recipe hits the spot! (It’s also very handy when you’re overrun with wombok!)
With the colder months upon us, it’s a great time to think about herbal remedies to boost you and your family’s immunity. We show you how to make fire cider.