Why are fermented foods so good for you? It is not just the content of beautiful vegetables, but the introduction of beneficial bacteria or probiotics, mainly lactobacillis varieties to the intestinal tract. This is a cheap and tasty way to get your probiotics daily. Why pay out money for capsules, when you can get them free?
First you will need suitable vegetables to ferment. If you are going to make sauerkraut, you will need mainly cabbage, and perhaps a little garlic. Both Kimchi and Sauerkraut are good sources of probiotics, but Kimchi will give you a wider variety of nutrients due to the mixture of vegetables. For instance, to modify hormones, a daily serve of broccoli is an easy way to do this, so eating Kimchi with lots of brocolli would be preferable to Sauerkraut.
Vegetables and spices commonly used in kimchi include cabbage, capsicum, chilli peppers, garlic, ginger, bok choi, cucumber, cauliflower, broccoli and spring onions.
Simply slice or chop vegetables and place in a large bowl. Next you will need to add salt. How much salt? I tend to use about small handful or 1/3 of a cup of salt to say 3 kg of chopped vegetables, the interesting thing is that over time the salt will lose its taste and the whole mix will become “sweet”. If you add too much salt, you will need to wait a lot longer before this occurs, so I would rather add a little less to start with, then adjust to your own taste as you make more batches. These ferments can even be made without salt, so if you are wanting to cut down the salt content, just add a tiny amount.
Next the salt is gently massaged into the vegetables, which will start to release the liquids contained within. This is the only liquid you will need to ferment your vegetables.
However, if you are cutting down the salt content, you may need to juice some cabbage and add that juice to the mix.
Now it is time to transfer the mixture to our fermenting jar. I have found the following method quite satisfactory, but the main objective is the keep the mixture submerged. If the vegetables become exposed to air they can become moldy and will need to be picked out of the fermenting product. (Do not discard your mix if this happens..the moldy bits can even be pushed under the brew and the acidic medium will destroy the mold.)
The liquid will become quite acidic due to the fermenting action of the bacteria, and this will prevent the submerged vegetables from contamination. Filling one jar with water will make it heavy and keep the vegetables underneath the liquids. It is important to ferment your Kimchi or Sauerkraut at room temperature, but do not let it get above 30 degrees Celsius or it will ferment too fast. If it is too cold it will take a long time to ferment. Ideal temperature would be 23 degrees Celsius. It will need a good two weeks before taste test. It should have a nice “pickle” smell and taste. The salt should be barely detectable. Some of my batches have taken many weeks before they were ready, so be patient.
The kimchi and saurkraut will keep for a long period in the fridge once fermented. Once your mix is ready, transfer to smaller jars and refrigerate.
Remember to check that the liquids are covering the top of the fermented vegetables. You can do this by turning the jar upside down for a few seconds once a week.
Important note: Flies will be attracted to your fermenting mix, so make sure you prevent their entry by means of a barrier. I find that using the leg of clean old stocking works well, or use plenty of glad wrap.
Best ways to eat these probiotic dainties?
- Mix a little with your side salads
- Use atop a piece of cheese as a tasty snack
- Serve with sausages, mustard and ketchup
- Serve alongside cooked vegetables
- Sprinkle over pizza after it has been removed from the oven
Remember consuming Saurkraut and Kimchi are great ways to innoculate the gut with healthy flora, so incorporating these into your daily diet is a very pleasant and wise thing to do.