Saturday, January 9, 2010

homemade...cultured vegetables tutorial

This has been quite a week, and it almost got away before I had the chance to share this promised tutorial. I was honored to be featured in an article over at Shivaya Naturals this week, and it has been a really incredible to connect with so many inspiring and creative women as a result. All I can say is blessed I am!

I chose making and eating fermented foods as my one small change for January. I've made cultured veggies before and purchased them from local growers, but my new commitment is to get into the habit of making them for my family regularly so they are available and consumed with every meal.

This time of year it is really important to try to up the nutrition we receive from our foods because we are not eating from our garden or from local sources. Eating cultured veggies does just that. It ups the vitamin content of the vegetables, provides important enzymes, and provides us with healthy bacteria for our digestive tract. And making cultured veggies is super easy and even young children can participate in the preparation. Here's how...

Gather your materials. You need whatever veggies you want to use ( see the end of the post for some recommendations), some sea salt, and we used some caraway seeds (this is optional). You need something to grate or chop up your veggies into small pieces.

Make your veggies smaller by grating or chopping them. You want to increase their surface area...I like keeping things simple and using a grater.

Jude got into the action with the grater.

Then we got out this crazy chopping contraption which was a hit.
Of course you could use a food processor instead.

After the veggies are smaller, use your hand...

potato masher, or spoon to squish the veggies and release their juices.

Add salt to taste. Enough salt is necessary to inhibit the microorganisms that we don't want.

We added some caraway seeds too.

Transfer to a clean dry jar or ceramic crock (no metal).

Push the veggies down until they are submerged under their juices.
Add a bit of water and additional salt if you need to.

Set the jar in a shallow container or bowl in case it overflows and cover it with a cloth or loosely with the jar lid (gases need to be able to escape).

Put the container in a warm spot in your house (ideally 72F). Check on it after a couple of days to make sure the veggies are staying under the liquid. You will start to see bubbles on the surface. You can taste it every day to see how it changes. It will take on a tangy taste, and you get to decide when they are done...generally 3-6 days. Then store your container of cultured veggies in the refrigerator.

You can use all sorts of veggies for culturing. Beets, daikon, and of course cabbage all work really well. You can add ginger, garlic, other herbs in various combinations. The real purpose of this tutorial is to show you how simple making cultured veggies is, but I love experimenting. There is lots of room for that with cultured veggies.

I've always eaten cultured veggies as a condiment, in other words, a tablespoon or so with my meal. I chose to give carrots a try this time because I have a mama hunch that Jude will like these.

In case you are a video person, I found a really great video of Sandor Kantz demonstrating how to make cultured veggies. His website has a wealth of information on fermentation too.

There are numerous recipes out there on the web, but I really enjoyed reading Making Fermented Foods: the Why and How and encourage you to take a look if you are not sure why eating fermented foods is such a good idea for your health. Additionally, there are a great collection of basic recipes at the end. I am particularily interested in trying Shivani's bread, which is a flat bread made from fermented grains...gluten and wheat free if you choose.

But the next fermented food I'm going to try making is still waiting patiently in that brown paper bag ...I'll let you see the results, hopefully, next week!


  1. This is a completely new idea to me. I am so intrigued! I'll be interested to follow your progress here.

  2. This is new to me too. I've read a bit about it, but to be completely honest, I've been a bit afraid to try it. I am so glad to be learning more about it here. Thanks for sharing this. (We just used our new chopper thingy this weekend for the first time and my little guy loved it too!)

  3. Very interesting post, I have never heard of doing this, thanks for sharing. Also thanks for stopping by my blog! I had just read all about you over on Heather's blog, I was surprised when I saw it was you who commented on my blog. :)

  4. This is relatively new to me too. We drink kefir and kombucha, but I haven't done anything with fermented veggies. Thanks for the introduction. What do you generally do with your fermented veggies?

  5. I think I'll do this tomorrow. My oldest LOVES kimchee and I know we have carrots and salt on hand. Thanks for the little tutorial.


  6. I had no idea you could ferment anything other than cabbage! Does your boy like fermented food? Looking forward to discovering what you're hiding in that bag:)

  7. Thanks for the comment on my blog! I love how simple you make the fermenting process seem (I had always thought you needed eight heads of cabbage and a few 5-gallon pickle crocks!)...I read "Wild Fermentation" a while ago, but was a bit off-put by the "wipe away any surface mold" instruction...but you make this seem so simple and appealing, I will give it a try!

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this. I grew up eating many cultured veggies, including beets, cabbage and watermelon (with rind). I make pickles using a similar method - just salt, pepercorns and garlic - no cooking. I will try the carrots - sounds yummy. And thank you for stopping by my blog - i'm glad i found your beautiful space here.

  9. We've spent the last 8 years in cities where fermented veggies are pretty much a staple and available in any fruit/veggie market. But I've never care much for the way they are seasoned (very bitter and/or very vinegary). I'm going to try this out at home!

  10. thank you SO much for this.

    i have been wanting for so long now to dabble in the world of fermented foods but i have been intimidated and overwhelmed by not knowing where to begin.

    this feels like a perfect place!

  11. This is so interesting Elizabeth. I am going to do a bit more research thank you for this inspiration and links!

  12. Have you ever used whey to top the veggies? I'll try your way first, and then dabble a bit in that direction. Thanks!

  13. Thank you for totally demystifying this process for me!

    I've been loving eating real, fermented foods (canned by friends or purchased at the coop) but I can tell deep inside me that making my own is in my VERY NEAR future. :)

    Carrots sound perfect.


  14. This is so awesome. I made some before but I didn't quite know what I was doing and it molded and I gave up. So, thank you for making me try again. I am on my second batch and it's SO good! I tried daikon radish, carrot, cabbage, garlic and cumin seed this time. It's like a little baby that I am nurturing on the counter. So Fun! Oh, I found you through Shivaya..


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