How to ferment Vegetables
Did you know that you have many more bacteria cells in your body than your own cells? Those bacteria play a major part in our health. How is your digestion, mental clarity? A great quality Probiotic supplement or eating fermented vegetables is a key to optimal health. Create a gut full of billions of “healthy beneficial” bacteria:
How to ferment vegetables: Choose your ingredients
You can add any ingredients you your choice, and remove what you don’t like. The vegetables used in this recipe are a wonderful mix of the following ingredients (amounts are approximate):
- Green cabbage: 6 lb (3 kg); forms the bulk of your batch; use hard, Red cabbage 2 lb (1 kg); adds a beautiful color in the jars,
- Carrots: 2 lb (1 kg)
- 3 sweet potatoes
- 3 celery bunches; celery adds a nice, mild salty taste; the juice contains substances protecting vegetables
- Ginger root; love the taste of it. I use about fairly big size root
- Coriander leaves or cilantro (I use a lot because its great mild taste and has major health-promoting)
- Celery leaves (these you cut off when juicing the celery stem)
- 3 Fennels (smells wonderful when shredding)
- 5 different colored bell peppers (remove the seeds)
- In this recipe I use NO salt; instead I only use celery juice that adds a salty taste (if you prefer salt, then add just a little Himalayan or other unprocessed salt)
- Body Ecology Starter Culture (is one of the best!). You can also use the excellent Dr. Mercola Complete Probiotics; use two capsules for every quart of vegetables.
Step 1: Prepare the culture starter
When fermenting vegetables, using a culture starter makes a BIG difference. My own experience is that a culture starter…
- makes the fermentations process more predictable; same high quality each time
- vegetables ferment faster
- vitamin K2 production is much higher (if the starter culture contains the right bacteria)
- amazing taste—wonderfully refreshing, a little more tart, acidic and complex taste together with a ginger background and crunchy vegetables
- packs the fermented vegetables with many more probiotic bacteria flooding your gut. A few tablespoons of these fermented vegetables can contain trillions of good bacteria; this is more than an entire probiotic supplement bottle containing 120 capsules.
Therefore, always use a high quality culture starter when fermenting vegetables!
Begin by preparing you culture starter. Here I’m using Body Ecology Culture Starter for I use only one packet (5 gr.) for 10-12 pounds (5-6 kg) of vegetables; this seems to work well; but you can also use two packets if you want more bacteria or during winter when room temperature is lower.
Mix the culture starter with celery juice
I make about a quart of fresh celery juice in a juicer, add a teaspoon of raw honey and mix well. Then add the starter culture and make sure you dissolve the powder completely in the juice. Leave this mix in room temperature while you prepare the vegetables; leaving it for 30-40 minutes is fine. This will allow the bacteria to wake up from their sleep, become active and start consuming the sugar in the juice. These are the beneficial microorganisms that will transform all your vegetables to probiotic-packed, nutritious superfood. one can use also filtered water instead of celery juice (add some salt to the veggies)
Step 2: Rinse, cut and shred the vegetables
Red and green cabbage are the basis of many recipes for good reasons; they are cheap but packed with phyto-chemicals, vitamins, enzymes, minerals and the very important vitamin K2. The fermentation process makes all these nutrients much easier for the body to assimilate.TIPS: Leave one cabbage leave for every jar you have; save these for later when packing the jars.
It is important to properly rinse you vegetables thoroughly in water. This you should do even if you use organic products.Put all of the vegetables into a big bowl where you can mix them easily.
Step 3. Add the culture starter to the vegetable mix
By now the starter culture, celery juice mix has been sitting for about 30 minutes. The bacteria are now active and ready to indulge in the vegetables. Just pour the who lot into the vegetable mix. Then blend thoroughly with your hand until the vegetables are completely mixed with the juice. If you want to add salt, this is the time to do it.
Step 4: Pack the vegetables in jars
The vegetables should be pressed or packed hard into the jars. You want to force air out and to squeeze juice our from the vegetables; this promote a successful fermenting process. For this I use a wooden instrument that looks like a small baseball bat; its called a “kraut pounder.” But can also use your fist for this.
Step 5: Add the cabbage leaves you saved
Putting cabbage leaves in the jars helps keep the vegetables in the brine and keeps oxygen out. The absence of oxygen is vital for a successful fermentation. When the fermentation process is complete, you can just remove the cabbage leaves, you don’t have to eat them.
Jars are filled and ready for fermentation!
Now the jars have to be properly stored in room temperature for 5-7 days. The fermentation process often accelerates on day 2 or 3. You’ll see bubbles and it might start to smell a bit; this is the smell of a live culture, beneficial bacteria turning the vegetables into delicious food.
Step 6: Fermentation
There could be some brine leaking out during the fermentation process. The temperature determines to a great degree how long you should keep the jars in room temperature. During wintertime you might need 7 or more days, but during summertime it might suffice with less. You can open one jar and taste it; if you’re happy with the taste, then put the jars in the fridge.
Ideal temperature: 68-75 degrees (20-24 C.); max would be around 83-85 (23-24 C.). Warmer will start to inhibit beneficial bacteria growth and stimulate other microorganisms like mold and yeast. The color of the vegetables changes during the fermentation process. Enjoy the benefits of the fermented vegetables!