Ferments are all the rage at the moment. Saurkraut, kombucha, kefir, kimchi……the list goes on. We often cheat and buy canned Krautboy saurkraut made in Poland, LOVE the stuff! Over the years I have made many a fermented food but could never hope to keep the supply equal to our demand (hence the canned stuff). The health benefits are plentiful, fermented foods are excellent for reintroducing healthy gut bacteria, beneficial enzymes for digestion, B-vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids and probiotics (the good gut bacteria). It has been said that if everyone ate one tablespoon of fermented foods every day, there would be less stomach cancer and all-round healthier people walking the planet!
So I thought I would do an easy step-by-step guide to making your own ferments, in a visual recording of the process so that even a young child could follow it! As shown in the picture above, this is all you need! 1 kg of vegetables (cabbage or whatever is seasonally available, I have used daikon radish as they tend to grow themselves all over my garden, self–seeded from the bird food we put out!), a tamper for pressing the vegetables into the bottle, a grater, 3Tbspn natural sea salt or Himalayan pink salt and spices, if you want to flavour it up.
Watch your fingers, peel and grate your root vegetables and place in large bowl. Add salt (if using pink salt crystals, grind with mortar and pestle first. Use natural sea salt or pink salt, NOT table salt that is washed and leached of all goodness. If making kraut with cabbage, slice finely and place into bowl then massage with salt till cabbage is soft and leaches out all its liquid. Do not discard the liquid. Pour over packed cabbage.
In my daikon ferment, I added half a teaspoon home-dried chilli, to add a spiced zing to the ferment. Experiment with spices you like; cumin, fennel, peppercorns etc. Optional: If you want to make lacto-ferments, replace 1 TBspn salt with 2TBspn whey.
Pack vegetables into jar, or bottle. I have a wooden tamper to press the vegetables down so that they release all air bubbles which could cause your ferment to go mouldy. The object is to remove all air bubbles.
I have cut sealing discs out of old yoghurt lids, cutting in at each corner, so that when placing them in the jars, they can fold up to fit. My weights are 18 year old round rocks brought from a return visit to my childhood home in Coffee Bay, Red Clay, Transkei, South Africa. They have served as sentimental ornaments, before being transformed into ferment weights for the last 5 years or so!
Having completed my Daikon ferment, I realised I still had more rogue Daikon, so quickly made up this Daikon, Carrot and Beetroot blend as an experiment. When finished, cover your bottle or jar with a cloth or muslin, so it can breathe and let it stand at room temperature for 4 – 10 days, taste-testing along the way until it reaches a level of fermentation that you like. Remove the bubbles that collect on the surface every day, then close the lid and store in refrigerator. Enjoy! 😄