I’m calling this a fermentation round-up – JFC style
For the uninitiated, JFC is Joanna Frankham Coaching. That’s me. And, it’s JFC- style because this is my approach to fermentation. A smidge loosey-goosey. A bit she’ll be alright on the night. Plus, a wee “let’s give this a go and see what happens.”
If my approach to fermentation were a dance, it would be considered interpretive!
THE INTRO’ BIT
For a girl who was never that much into science at school, I love the sense of experimentation that home fermentation brings. In fact, one of my most favourite nutrient-density hobbies is to ferment my own vegetables. I’ve become a bit of a fermented veggie queen. (That’s queen with a small ‘q’ because it’s very much a hobby that I’ve embraced to fit my lifestyle). Fermentation allows me to produce foods in my kitchen that are full of living probiotic bacteria, yeasts and enzymes that enhance my health. They taste great, too!
One or two things you should know before you embark on this fermentation round-up with me, then:
- I’m a particular fan of fermenting my vegetables because it is so EASY. All I need is vegetables and a bit of salt. Not for me the fiddliness of making kombucha with it’s SCOBY or kefir with the necessary grains. Don’t get me wrong – they have their place. Just not in my kitchen.
- When it comes to measurements, I’m generally a near enough is good enough kind of girl (The exception is when I’m baking. Then I follow a recipe exactly). This attitude lends itself to home fermentation experiments because no ferment is ever the same as another. It is not an exact science.
- If you’re new to the idea of fermenting your vegetables, cabbage is your best friend. There’s a reason so many cultures have a cabbage-based ferment as traditional food. Think the Germans and sauerkraut, the Koreans and kimchi, the Polish and kiszona kapusta which they use to fill pierogis. Did you know that Captain James Cook always took a store of sauerkraut on his sea voyages because experience had taught him it prevented scurvy?
Why I love fermenting my veggies:
- It’s worth repeating that I love the feeling that I’m regularly conducting a mini-science experiment on my kitchen bench. The nature of fermentation is such that each batch of ferment is different. Variables like the quality, type and freshness of my produce (always organic!), the temperature and humidity of the kitchen, how much salt I add – all ensure that I never quite know what I’ll find as I lift the lid on my crock.
- I love that fermentation takes time. It’s impossible to rush nature. I follow a wild fermentation approach. This is the age-old process of allowing the right environment and the right amount of time to let nature take its course.
- Fermenting my vegetables provides me with a creative outlet. As you can see from the examples below, I can play with flavours in my ferments. And I regularly do!
- It’s both seasonal and economical. While I usually create a ferment with cabbage as the base, I add other seasonal ingredients that I find at the markets.
- Fermented foods are great for my gut. The process of lactofermentation where natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creates lactic acid. This process preserves the food and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics.
- A great little side benefit is that jars of fermented vegetables make wonderful gifts – just ask my sister who is regularly on the receiving end of my fermentation experiments.
Fermentation is a process that uses good bacteria and yeast to transform the ingredients you select. When you ferment your food, you effectively crowd out the bad bacteria with good bacteria. This changes both the flavour and texture of your food, but also helps lengthen it’s shelf life, too. A cabbage may last 2 or 3 weeks in your fridge, but sauerkraut will easily last a year.
Fermenting your vegetables is an anaerobic process. This means you are removing the oxygen. By removing oxygen you create the ideal conditions for good bacteria to multiply, and at the same time prevent the bad bacteria from getting a hold and spoiling the food.
According to the guru of fermentation, Sandor Ellix Katz, there are four primary health benefits to fermenting your food:
- Pre-digestion of nutrients into more accessible and bioavailable forms
- Nutritional enhancements and creation of unique micronutrients
- Detoxification and transformation of anti-nutrients into nutrients. This is especially true of the phytates found in nuts and grains (which is why soaking is advised), and
- Live probiotic cultures, present and alive in many ferments.
So, fermented foods not only give you a wide variety of beneficial bacteria, but they also give you LOTS of them. Naturally fermenting foods has also been shown to preserve the nutrients in your food, but also to break the food down to a more digestible form.
Nutrient density nugget: Fermented Vegetables
We take a look at a particular nutrient-rich food, discuss what makes it so good for us and I share how I integrate it into my diet.
This is my Nutrient Density Nugget vid’ on fermented vegetables.
How to make YOUR OWN fermented veggies
For a comprehensive how-to guide on How to Ferment Your Vegetables, including handy tips on how much salt to use and whether you need to sterilise your fermentation vessel, head to this post: https://joannafrankham.com/essentials-how-to-ferment-your-vegetables/
For this Fermentation Round-Up, I’m sharing Some of my favourite fermented veggie combos:
My Golden Kraut is a seriously funky, anti-inflammatory ferment that I make so often I create a recipe. You can find that here:https://joannafrankham.com/how-to-make-anti-inflammatory-immune-boosting-and-probiotic-golden-kraut
How to eat your fermented vegetables
As a general rule, I aim to add one to two tablespoons of fermented vegetables to every savoury meal. Some of the ways I do this:
- Treat it like a condiment. Have on the side.
- Add a spoonful of fermented veggies to a Soup Equation Soup.
- Fermented veggies are a great addition to mixed or chopped salads. My personal favourite is my SUPERFOOD ‘Hauskraut’ Slaw
- After you’ve whipped up a ‘no-recipe’ Breakfast Hash – stir through a generous serve of fermented vegetables. (<– my favourite leftovers dinner!)
- Add kraut juice as an alternative to citrus in your salad dressings and guacamole.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of sauerkraut to your favourite green smoothie recipe. Most peeps won’t even know that you’re serving them probiotic goodness!
It’s not just about the Kraut-style fermented vegetables. Check out these recipes, too:
My Fermented Garlic Paste recipe is consistently one of the most popular on my site. And for good reason. This little kitchen hack as a way to have homemade garlic paste on tap, ready and waiting for you in your fridge, whenever you need it.
Beet Kvass is a fermented beet tonic made up of really simple ingredients. In fact, of all the ferments you can create, I think it is one of the easiest and least intimidating. You don’t need any fancy equipment, either.
Traditionally heralded as a blood and liver tonic, beet kvass originated in the Ukraine and Russia. I drink it as a pre-dinner aperitif.
This dairy-free labneh is a creamy, yogurt-y, cheese-y HERBALICIOUS bowl of yumminess that is so good your AIP muggle-mates won’t have a clue it’s not the real thing. If you’ve been missing dairy, I urge you to give this baby a go… HERBALICIOUS Labneh is really good!
My Top three fermentation round-up book recommendations
- This is the bible of all the fermentation books by the godfather of fermentation. It’s got it all. It gets quite technical and there are whole chapters I haven’t even got to yet.
- The book that started it all for me. If you ever get the chance to attend a live workshop with Sandor, grab it! The man is a legend.
- A lovely book on fermentation by a local Australian. If you like recipes, this is the book for you – a how-to guide to the basics on fermentation (why do it; what you need; and what you’ll get)