How To: Lacto-Fermented Vegetables

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After working as a research assistant on a probiotic study a few years ago, I was hooked on the incredible benefits of fermented foods and amazed to discover that nearly every culture has fermented foods in it.  I am not a food scientist but I have a little understanding from my dad and his wealth of knowledge as a nutritionist.

This is a simple lesson about your gut.  Basically your gut contains good bacteria which is necessary for breaking down your foods and also plays a strong role in maintaining your immune system and fighting disease.  Good bacteria from foods such as yoghurts, kimchi, fermented vegetables and other sources, contain probiotics and prebiotics which encourage the growth of this good bacteria.  When buying a yoghurt, make sure that it contains the bacteria like acidopholus and lactobacillus or they do not work as a probiotic.

This recipe is an easy way to get started with fermenting your own foods.  A word of warning, if this recipe grows a black or white coating on top, do not eat it.  Also it will not smell and the flavour will be mild.  Use your nose also.  If it smells mouldy, don’t eat it.  There will be no offensive odour from the jar.  This recipe will take about half an hour to make (after a night with your yoghurt standing) and it is really simple.

When I have made few batches of this, I eat a few tablespoons as a condiment with my lunch and dinner.  It is so delicious and really helps digestion and to stay ummmm.. regular.

Ingredients & Materials

1 Mason Jar with lid

1 Nut Milk Bag (or your can use cheesecloth to make your own)

1/4 green cabbage

1/4 purple cabbage

1 large carrot

1 tablespoon caraway seeds

2 teaspoons sea salt

500g yoghurt (I used Mundella pot-set which is jam-packed with probiotics but is only available in Oz)

Spring water to fill the jar (don’t use tap water as the chlorine and fluoride halt the fermentation process)

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Method

1. Put your nutmilk bag over a mason jar and pour the yoghurt into it.  Suspend the yoghurt toward the top of the jar so that the whey drips into the bottom of the jar.  The whey is a yellow colour.  Leave this jar for 24 hours in the open.  When it is done there will be a few inches of way at the bottom of the mason jar and in the top of jar there will be fermented cream cheese.  This cream cheese is tangy and delicious and can be used to spread bread or bagels or anything you like.  Just leave it in an airtight container in the fridge.  It will keep for a few weeks, at least.

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2. Slice your cabbages and grate your carrot.  Measure out your caraway seeds.

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3. Remove the nutmilk bag from the mason jar and you are left with the whey.

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4. Combine all the vegetables in a mixing bowl.  Add the caraway seeds and the salt.

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5. Add two tablespoons of whey to the mix and massage the vegetables with your hands for about five minutes.  They will become a lot more limp and some of the juice will be massaged out of them when they are done.

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6. Put the massaged vegetable into the mason jar and pour the left over vegetable juice in with it.

7. Pour another tablespoon of whey over the top.

8. Fill the jar with spring water, making sure that all the vegetables are covered.  At this point many people will put a weight in the jar to push the vegetables down to make sure that they are not in contact with the air.  This is optional and I have never had a problem with mould.

9. Seal the mason jar with the lid and leave it on the kitchen bench for 2 -3 days.  As the fermenting process starts to take place you will notice little air bubbles starting to rise to the top of the jar.

10. After a few days make sure that the mixture has no pungent odour and has no mould on top.  Place the jar in the fridge and use as a condiment with your meals.  It is absolutely delicious to eat.

It takes good when eaten with just about anything,  rice, sandwiches, quiches.  I eat a little with everything.

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