A fun and healthy addition to your kitchen repertoire. Cultured or fermented vegetables come in many different varieties, as many as our collective imaginations can handle!
I will share with you my method and recipe that I use for my cultured vegetables but first you may be asking, why would one even want to do that to a vegetable? Aren’t vegetables fine on their own, eaten raw? I can answer that in two ways: yes veggies are great on their own in the raw but you may want to ferment certain veggies to promote the beneficial bacteria that is so helpful to our guts (you know: stomach, large intestine, small intestine, colon) helpful in that they aid digestion and are full of probiotics which are basically the “good” bacteria that you want in your body to keep you functioning shall I say ‘in the pink’. Our bodies are in symbiosis with millions of bacteria and when the bad bacteria overcome the good that is when illness happens. We need to intake or eat the good bacteria found in fermented foods like Kombucha , Jun tea, cultured veggies, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, even water kefir, milk kefir, yogurt and some cheeses in order to balance the gut flora.
Are you eating enough fermented veg? How much is too much and how much is enough?
This is something that is as unique as we all are. I would recommend to start small, a tablespoon a day on a salad as a topper or on a sandwich. See how you do. Initially, if you have a build up of harmful bacteria, you may feel an upset stomach as the bacteria fight for dominance in your gut and the good clear out the bad but after a few days you should start to feel those reactions recede. Some of you may not feel that at all, we’re all individual. Listen to your body. We do need probiotics on a daily though so choose how you would like to intake them. If you’re like me and like to get it through foods then here’s a recipe to try:
- 1 medium head cabbage
- 1 bunch radishes (any kind)
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- 2 cups shredded beets
- 2 tbsp sea salt
- Prepare your veggies by washing and scrubbing with a food scrubber under cold water. Trim root hairs, tops of beets, radishes and carrots and damaged spots off the veg and discard. Remove outer cabbage leaves and reserve for the top of the jar.
- Get a large bowl ready. Cut the cabbage in to quarters and remove core.
- Using a food processor and working in batches, chop the cabbage into small shreds removing and placing in bowl when desired size is achieved. Follow with the other veggies.
- Sprinkle the salt all over the chopped veg and using clean hands, massage the veg turning it, mixing it and squeezing it to get it to sweat. The veg should be softer and juices should start to flow. If you find that your veggies are not too juicy after squeezing for about 5 minutes then let them sit for about an hour and they should start to sweat naturally.
- Using a clean jar or jars (wide mouth is best) or a fermentation crock, working in 1 cup layers, start to pack the veg down using a potato masher or your hand. The brine should start to rise above the veg. Follow this until the veg is about 2 inches from the top of the jar and the brine is 1 inch above the veg. You can add some salt water to the veg if there is not enough brine.
- Place a clean folded cabbage leaf on top of the veg to keep it submerged in the brine and weigh it down with a jar filled with water or glass weight and cover with a thickly woven cloth and elastic band. Alternately, place a lid on top but you must burp it every day as the gases will build up. You could also get an airlock lid which is best used for fermenting veggies. It allows gases to escape while keeping unwanted things out.
- Let the veggies sit for about 10 days at between 60°F to 70°F
- Taste after 10 days, remove the cabbage leaf, place a tight lid on it and move to cold storage.
- Enjoy life in the pink!