The Original Probiotic: Fermenting foods is one of the earliest methods of preserving food and has been used for centuries as a powerful tool to reverse and prevent diseases.
What is fermentation? At its most basic level – fermentation is a biological process which encourages the production of lactobacillus (probiotics) bacteria cultures – the good gut guys! These bacteria cultures break down sugars and starch in food which creates beneficial enzymes, vitamins, acids, and various strains of probiotics helping us to digest our food properly.
Almost any vegetable can be fermented and in its simplest form requires nothing more than salt, wild yeasts in the air and whatever your fridge and pantry have on offer.
Sterilised 1 litre mason jar with clip top lid
Sterilised ceramic weights or a couple of outer cabbage leaves (to weigh down the vegetables)
Knife or box grater
Large mixing bowl
1kg mixed vegetables (cabbage, carrots, chard, garlic, kale, onion, radishes etc)
10 – 20g salt
Herbs or spices ( coriander, parsley along with 2 tsp of assorted spices: chilli, fennel seed, coriander seed etc)
Slice, chop or grate your vegetables as finely as possible. Throw them in a large mixing bowl and add the herbs, spices and some salt.
Mix and squeeze all the veggies for around 5 minutes with your hands – squeeze hard – you want to release the juices which will collect at the bottom of the bowl.
Keep tasting the slaw and add more salt if desired.
Pack the vegetables into the sterilised jar, cover with juice until the veggies are submerged, make sure there are no air pockets. Leave a few inches of space at the top to allow for expansion.
Place the ceramic weights or cabbage leaves on top of the vegetables to keep them submerged in the juice.
Close the lid of the jar and leave on counter for 3 – 7 days. You will need to open the jar daily to release any pressure that may build up, making sure that vegetables are re-submerged in the liquid.
During the fermenting process, you may see bubbles (carbon dioxide) and a white residue forming at the top of the jar which is all harmless and totally normal. It’s a sign of a healthy fermentation process.
Keep tasting the slaw. Once the flavour is to your liking, it’s ready to eat. Place in the fridge and it should keep for six months.
When we first started delving into the world of Wild Fermentation, we attended a Masterclass with the brilliant Matthew Pennington, head chef at The Ethicurean. If you happen to be passing by and want to learn how to step up your preservation techniques, we highly recommend attending one of his classes. We used Matthew’s recipe as inspiration for this variation.
GREAT BOOKS ABOUT FERMENTATION